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History of 

Evanston Township 

High School 

First Seventy-Five Years 


District 202 

Evanston^ Illinois 

^-73 775/ 







To HELP OBSERVE Eviinstoii s Ceulenniai, Evanston 
Township High School is proud to present its first his- 
tory ^ that of its first seventy-five years — i88yig^8. Writ- 
ten by Mrs. Marie Claire Davis, a teacher of English, as 
a special assignment from the Board of Education of Dis- 
trict 202, this history relates the factual and human in- 
terest story that has evolved into the nationally famous 
school that ETHS is today. Through much tireless re- 
search reading files of old school and city publications 
and intervieiving many Evanstonians , both former and 
present, Mrs. Davis absorbed the story of ETHS. With 
her skill as a writer she has synthesized all of the informa- 
tion she obtained to tell entertainingly and informatively 
the story of Evanston Township High School. The Board 
of Education and the administration of the school are 
grateful to Mrs. Davis for her contribution to the history 
of Evanston. They believe that this history will become 
increasingly valuable as the years go on and will always 
serve as a reminder of the many who have contributed 
to the greatness of the school. 

Clarence W. Hach, Editor 
Chairman of the English Deportment 
and Publications 

June, ig6^ 



Early Beginnings 

Through the windows of the three-story frame build- 
ing on Benson Avenue came the steady hum of Ben Peeney's sawmill. 
Students inside the Benson Avenue School moved restlessly, waiting 
for the sawmill's shrill noon whistle to release them for "one of 
Mother's well-filled baskets" or — better yet — one of her "substantial 
and homecooked dinners." 

Upstairs in Room 8, home of the school's highest grade, Otis E. 
Haven was teaching Evanston's first public high school class. The 
superintendent of Evanston's public school system and principal of 
the grammar grade building at Benson, "Professor" Haven might well 
have spared himself what many Evanstonians in 1873 called a waste 
of taxpayers' money. 

Certainly he received little encouragement from the community. 
Evanston already had a private high school, the Preparatory School of 
Northwestern University. Established in 1857, the Academy, as it 
came to be called, offered a four-year college preparatory course and 
had proved so successful that its students now occupied all of Old 
College, the first building to go up on Northwestern's campus. 

Two decades later, the "great opposition" Haven met was still re- 
called. It was argued that one institution of the character was enough. 
Or, as businessmen succinctly put it, "If anyone wants schooling be- 
yond the grades, let him go to the Northwestern University Academy, 
pay for it out of his own pocket, and not expect the village to provide 
the means." 

Handling the problems of the Benson School itself took consider- 
able effort. Frances Willard, who was to found the Woman's Christian 
Temperance Union and was at no time in her career overly timid, 
thought teaching in this school "the hardest work she had ever done." 
Pupils were unruly enough to drive her to "use of the stick" and imag- 
inative enough, on one occasion at least, to evade it. She always re- 
membered two boys who, seeing her advance with ruler in hand, 
vaulted through an open window and never returned. A neighboring 
man teacher was said to soothe his rebels by tossing them to the ceiling. 

Under the circumstances Haven could hardly have been blamed 
for dropping his unpopular concept of a public high school. His stu- 
dents were accustomed to a school which "advanced as far as the 
grammar of eighth grade with occasionally a stray class in Latin or 



Analysis during the winter time for the accommodation ot a tew who, 
for want of means or for other reasons, preferred to stay in the highest 
department of the school." 

Haven, however, in nine years of administration brought the 
schools "to their utmost efficiency," according to a District No. i re- 
port, and his blueprint for Evanston public schools included a sec- 
ondary division. Contemporaries recall him as a "born teacher" with 
"executive ability . . . earnestness and conscientiousness which never 
flagged." He possessed a personal warmth typified by a former student 
as a combination of a "woman's tenderness ... an ever cheerful dis- 
position, heart overflowing with kindness, sympathetic voice." The 
same student recalled a "masculine spirit that no one dared to dis- 

Equipped with these traits. Haven waited until the Board of School 
Directors was replaced by a six-member Board of Education, "com- 
posed of progressive men." Then, 

... as there was a feeling that the schools of Evanston should take a 
more advanced and a higher rank, it was decided, during the second 
year of their (Board of Education) organization to establish a high 

This "school" opened in September, 1875, in the single room at the 
Benson School, although it was not legally established until the fol- 
lowing year. The size of the first class is hard to establish; Dr. Haven 
had earlier introduced some high school studies into his regular 
eighth grade work. That fact may have confused later historians who 
vary from 40 to 25 in their estimates of class size. What is undisputed 
is that the first class to graduate in 1876 consisted of Ellen Pryor and 
Thomas S. Noyes. In succeeding years the number of graduates in- 
creased: 7, 14, 19, 20, 21. Evanston's doubts as to the need of the high 
school were quickly wiped out. In only a few weeks the little room 
proved too small, and the high school began its seven-year hegira. 
With no regular accommodations it was moved from hall to hall on 
Davis Street. The first stop was in space above the post office at 617 
Davis Street. (Actually the school also occupied the second story 
rooms above 615 Davis Street.) By 1877 the classes had outgrown this 
way station and were moved to Lyons Hall, 621-623 Davis Street. And 
in the last year of its existence the high school was transferred to 
Jennings Hall, 826-828 Davis Street. 

Despite this mobility, the Village High School succeeded in gradu- 
ating eight classes with a total of 118 pupils, 47 boys and 71 girls, a 
higher proportion of boys than usually found at that time. In an in- 
teresting indication of the future role of Evanston's high school, rec- 
ords show that 43 per cent of these alumni attended college — 25 boys 

Early Beginnings 

and 26 girls. (Only 19 men and 14 women completed their higher 
education, however.) 

What did these students learn? Before Haven left the field of edu- 
cation in June, 1882, to study for a medical degree, he had added a 
year to the high school course to make it a traditional four-year pro- 
gram. The specific courses of study offered were revised several times 
until in 1879 there were four sequences from which to choose: Latin, 
English, Classical, and Modern Language. Biology was offered, ap- 
parently, since a student publication eulogizes Professor Haven's dis- 
section of a rabbit "in masterly fashion." History and High Algebra 
classes are also mentioned. An editorial urging that money be raised 
for a reference library gives as one reason for canvassing public and 
private donors the stress on essay "and other rhetorical work." Though 
a desired "standing choir" never materialized, enough singing was 
done to wear out a "set of singing books." 

The physical environment was apparently worse than inadequate, 
in retrospect: 

The site of the old school, if it can be called a site, was Lyons Hall of 
Davis Street. It consisted of one large room and two smaller, office-like 
rooms. Here 120 pupils were crowded; here algebra and geometry 
classes of thirty climbed over each other in their vain efforts to obtain 
a board. Mr. Haven was then principal of both the High and the 
Grammar School. 

In one of the halls that housed the school, its octette competed with 
"strains of music" rising from a barbershop below. When an effort to 
raise funds to build failed, the students protested against the "miser- 
able shanty which serves as a school building now." 

The year 1881 held more than these "blasted hopes" for Village 
High School students, however. There were little afternoon prayer 
meetings, founding of the school's first publication — the Budget, "An 
Amateur Monthly Devoted to the Interest of the Evanston High 
School," and averaging eight small pages; class socials; a literary so- 
ciety; and an abortive effort to organize elocution classes (but "two 
sessions a day is incompatible with any studying outside of the regular 
course work") . 

Already the school was competing in statewide examinations. En- 
tering against "sixteen of the best high schools of the state," Evanston 
took four prizes to rank third best in Illinois. Eveline S. Edwards, a 
teacher in the Village High School who was to become the beloved 
"Grandma Edwards" of Evanston Township High School, recalled 
the remark in 1882 of a Northwestern University professor: "The 
principal of the Preparatory will have to look out for his laurels; he 
is always boasting his school is so much better than the high school, 



but he has never sent me any better material than I have had this 
year from Evanston High School." 

Graduates were also accepted by such schools as Yale, Vassar, 
Wellesley, the University of Michigan, Harvard, Western Reserve 
University, Wells College, the University of Illinois, and the Uni- 
versity of Colorado. 

Nevertheless, the failure of the village of Evanston to approve 
funds for a proper high school building had highlighted the financial 
weakness of the school's taxation base. Cramped into the classrooms 
at Jennings Hall, which later became Bailey's Opera House, were 
students from the village itself, from the separate village of South 
Evanston, from Rogers Park, and from a "community called North 
Evanston," Wilfred Beardsley, later to become second principal of 
ETHS, recalled in 1921. Miss Edwards estimated that less than half 
the school population lived in Evanston village; they came from "as 
far south as Lake View and from all villages to the north, even occa- 
sionally Highland Park." 

Neither the three Evanston villages nor Rogers Park was large 
enough to support a high school; yet the need for one had been 
established. "Grandma" Edwards, in notes made many years later, 
gave the figure of "less than 100" for the enrollment at the Village 
High School before September, 1880. In that school year it rose to 
120. A total of 58 was graduated in 1881, 1882, and 1883, with 
nine of that number from South Evanston, three from Rogers Park, 
and five from the North Shore (then defiined as north of Central 
Street). It had been evident to the Board of Education as early as 
1879 that a "very serious situation" was developing. Evanston's own 
popidation was increasing rapidly, its school buildings were inade- 
quate, a stringent law limited the amount of money to be raised from 
taxation for school purposes, much of the area within the village 
limits was University-owned and exempt from taxation, and preced- 
ing administrations had left a debt of nearly $20,000. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Haven was stimulating dissatisfaction with the 
three-year program; the community, despite some rumbles of opposi- 
tion, was ready for more complete high school preparation but 
without enough property valuation to pay for it. Haven was the 
first to admit that it was "absolutely impossible for the village of 
Evanston to build a high school." 

The problem was not unique, of course. In Princeton, Illinois, as 
far back as 1867, a man called Henry Leonidas Boltwood had been 
influential in pushing through the state legislature an act author- 
izing formation of a special high school district that would "take 
in not only the village of Princeton but also considerable territory in 
addition. " The larger district provided more money, particularly 

• lO • 


First Principal of E.I.H.S. 


from farmers living just outside the village who were thus enabled 
to send their children to the high school. Under Boltwood the ad- 
ditional income was used to produce a high level of work by the 
Princeton students. The school indeed was reputed the only one in 
that part of the state that prepared for "first-class colleges." This 
reputation drew as many as 90 or 100 students from other areas to 
it. Boltwood had also made this the first public high school in 
the state to emphasize the teaching of English and to own a good 
reference library. 

By 1871 a general act was passed by the legislature authorizing 
establishment of such township high schools anywhere in Illinois. 
And in 1878 the same Professor Boltwood had been invited to Ottawa 
in LaSalle County to set up another township high school. 

Dr. Haven may have been the first to suggest that Evanston stop 
trying to balance its budget with the tuition of non-village students. 
At any rate, an early school publication reports that he "labored long 
and earnestly" for the "desired end." A citizens' meeting was called 
by John L. Beveridge, L. C. Pitner, and H. A. Pearsons in 1881 
to discuss the matter. No record of the meeting has yet been dis- 
covered, but the township idea picked up substantial support among 
men of such stature in the community as William Blanchard, S. D. 
Childs, S. B. Goodenow, William P. Jones, and William Vose. 

The question of establishing the high school was put to the voters 
on April 4, 1882. Despite a $40,000 bond issue rider, 6ii favored 
establishing a township high school, and only 147 opposed it. 

But the first of what was to be a series of battles over sites of 
Evanston Township High School developed almost immediately. 
From the subsequent history of ETHS it appears likely that the 
Village High School escaped such a controversy only because of 
its transient status. A rather vague listing of the choices of sites in- 
dicates that one group of citizens advised purchasing Lake Side 
property, another land in the Central Park area, and a third held 
out for four or five "different buildings in different parts of town, 
thus equalizing to a great degree the distances from the schools to 
the homes of the scholars and lessening the dangers arising from 
fire and contagious diseases (sic)." 

An earnest but rather ungallant correspondent wrote the news- 
paper of the day warning that the Lake Side property's nearness to 
a railroad would expose the "young ladies" to the temptation of 
flirting with train employees. 

Actually the compromise site chosen at the corner of Dempster 
and Benson (a street in that location since renamed Elmwood) was 
selected in part because of its nearness to trains. Two lines, the 
Northwestern and one referred to only as the C and N, ran quite 

. 12 • 

The first E.T.H.S., at the 
left, opened in 1883 at 
the southeast corner of 
Dempster and Benson 
Avenue (now Elm- 



In 1890 a south wing, 
below, was added to 
the original building. 

• 13 


close, as teachers were to realize unhappily in years to come. At the 
time, however, easy transportation for students was a vital con- 
sideration, especially for the Rogers Park contingent which was "a 
bit afraid anyhow that Evanston would get the best of the bar- 
gain." Miss Edwards quotes community criticism of the location as 
being completely "out of the way" with its "low, swampy ground 
between two ridges." It was "practically open country" with at most 
two houses standing at the extreme south end of the block, many 
vacant lots on the west of the street, and no buildings whatever from 
the site of the school building to Chicago Avenue except for a little 
day shelter by the railroad tracks. 

The first Board of Trustees continued to plan. Blanchard, Childs, 
and Goodenow worked closely with Norton W. Boomer, a 48-year- 
old graduate of Hamilton College, New York, who had been long 
associated with grammar and high schools of Chicago. Land, at the 
rate of $15 per front foot, came to $4,000. No one then imagined 
that more space was needed than 250 feet on Benson and 200 on 
Dempster. The building itself was erected for $32,500, leaving $3,500 
for equipping it and meeting other expenses. (One of these was a 
$2,000 charge for filling in the former cow pasture so that work 
could begin on October 18,1882.) 

A single, cubical building, it sat in the center of the grounds 
with entrances at the north and west. Pictures show a two-story 
brick building with flights of steps leading to first-floor entries well 
above a ground floor. The major efforts at ornamentation were 
projections remotely resembling abbreviated towers at each of the 
four corners of the building and a cupola on the roof facing toward 
Dempster Street. Architects had worked with Professor Boomer to 
develop what was then considered a "fine and adequate building," 
but faculty members described it with less affection in later years, for 
the classrooms were "all very small," the woodwork "a cheap, dingy 
gray," the office a little room directly over the main entrance, and 
all science work had to be done in a "box of a room" just above the 
office which did, however, possess the only closet in the building. 

Just before the building was completed. Boomer died. Anxious 
to procure another man of "wide experience and broad range of 
thought," the trustees listened to the suggestion of George O. Ide. 
A long-time resident of Evanston, Ide had formerly lived in Prince- 
ton and suggested that the Mr. Boltwood, who was already known 
as the father of the township high school system in Illinois, might 
be persuaded to come to Evanston. Blanchard, as president of the 
Board, evidently took the major responsibility for checking Bolt- 
wood's qualifications. He spent "part of two days" in Princeton in- 
vestigating charges that the educator had left that town "under 

• 14- 

Early Beginnings 

cloud." The Board president secured the names of all persons active 
in forcing Boltwood's resignation from Princeton, interviewed every 
one, and "felt 'I loved him for the enemies he had made'." 

A hint as to the reason Boltwood, then no longer yoimg, decided 
to move to Evanston is foimd in a newspaper clipping summarizing 
his life which suggests that the residts he obtained at Ottawa were 
"not as good" as those at Princeton. The writer ascribed this rela- 
tive failure to the fact that Ottawa had a largely foreign population 
rather than the basically New England stock of Princeton. This 
information can have come only from Boltwood himself. He had 
also vmdoubtedly heard of Evanston's "classic" reputation, since a 
graduate of 1887 recalls that the principal at first permitted unusual 
freedom to Evanston students under the impression that they were 
of so high a caliber that they needed fewer restraints than most 

^V'ith him he brought his favorite Princeton teacher, Mary L. 
Barrie, who had learned her Latin from him. Miss Edwards and an 
Evanstonian, Ellen L. White, who had taught with her at the Village 
School; Lyden Evans, hired to instruct in science and French; and 
a part-time instructor, L. H. Merwin, "vocal music," completed the 
staff roster as the building was dedicated at 7:15 p.m., August 31, 
1883. A copy of the dedication program shows that the exercises 
included music; a prayer by the Rev. F. S. Jewell; a statement from 
the Board of Trustees; "remarks" by Haven and the County Super- 
intendent, A. G. Lane; an address by Dr. Joseph Cummings, presi- 
dent of Northwestern, who had earlier been associated with the 
ineffectual effort to establish elocution classes at the Village High 
School; and finally presentation of the high school keys to Boltwood. 

Evanstonians must have looked curiously at the new principal. 
They saw a blue-eyed, 52-year-old man, already white-haired with 
a mustache and beard that emphasized the triangular outline of 
his face. Though erect and thin, he walked across the platform with 
a "loose-kneed shambling walk" that made him seem awkward. He 
wore a black suit, soon enough to be known as "the" black suit by 
students who estimated it was pressed perhaps once a year; and he 
made an "unspellable sound in his throat" before beginning the 
first sentence of a response that was punctuated by "many little 
quick movements of his hand." 

No record has been found of Boltwood's response at the dedication. 
Judging by other speeches he made, it was probably vigorous, un- 
affected, and somewhat religious in tone, reflecting a mind that had 
learned early in life to distinguish between what was significant and 
what was not. 

He was born in 1831 at Amherst, Massachusetts, to William and 


Electa Stetson Boltwood, eighth generation New England farmers. 
The third of eleven children, Henry L. was one of nine to grow 
up to "learn that if it is no disgrace to be poor, it is horribly incon- 
venient." He studied at the district school, which often held classes 
for just three months in the heart of winter, but, like every other 
ambitious boy in that area traditionally respectful of learning, he 
wanted to attend Amherst Academy. After six years of sketchy 
preparation in the district school, the 15-year-old Boltwood per- 
suaded the Academy principal to accept him for entrance. Luckily, 
the Academy was only a mile from his father's farm. The family 
promised to provide him board, washing, and fuel. He earned his 
other expenses, taking three years to complete two full years of 

In 1849 he was ready to enter Amherst College. A graduate of the 
Academy, he could now eke out his income by teaching in the winter. 
His first job was at Tariffville, a Connecticut town so-named be- 
cause its economic life centered around a carpet factory that thrived 
under the protective tariff. There he earned $4 a week and "boarded 
round." Another source of income was sawing cords of wood at 83 
cents to $1 a cord. In the summer he continued to "hire out" on 
district farms, once attracting the interest of a farmer who lent him 
money to carry him through the next year of school. 

Despite this schedule, he managed to graduate in 1853 with his 
class, a charter member of Phi Beta Kappa. Planning to prepare for 
the Congregational ministry, he accepted a loan from the Congre- 
gational Society. But he decided to supplement the grant by accept- 
ing a post as head of a typical Eastern academy at Limerick, Maine. 
Teaching captured his full allegiance almost immediately. He re- 
turned the loan and entered upon ten years of work in New England 
academies in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. 

As the Civil War broke out, he became restless. He "engaged in 
business in New York for a short time," according to Frances Willard. 
A reporter who interviewed him in 1903 bears out this statement by 
indicating that Boltwood was a chemist in New York City for a few 
months before entering the service in April, 1864. 

He first intended to become chaplain for a Negro regiment which 
wanted a "teacher, not a preacher," but the regiment fell short of 
its quota of members and was not organized. Boltwood then signed 
up as a relief agent for the United States Sanitary Commission. In 
later years he liked to talk about his duties in the Gulf of Mexico 
area to which he was assigned. The commission spent about $60,000,- 
000 for ambulances, surgical appliances, reading matter for the 
wounded, and the support and founding of hospitals. Its agents went 
to work after a battle, both on the field itself and in the hospitals. 

• 16 • 

Early Beginnings 

Boltwood watched Steele's command take Fort Blakely in the last 
conflict of the war, the battle at Mobile, fought April 9, 1865, a 
few hours after Lee had surrendered at Appomatox. But he was 
probably in greater danger when he narrowly escaped death as a 
nearby powder magazine exploded, wrecking the sanitary commis- 
sion building in Mobile. 

It was the urging of officers he met in service that brought Bolt- 
wood to Illinois. They convinced him that opportimities were great 
in "the West," and in the fall of 1865 he brought his wife he had 
married ten years before — Helen Eugenia Field of Charlemont, Mas- 
sachusetts — and his nine-year-old son to Griggsville, Pike County, Illi- 
nois. Two years later he left his position as superintendent there to 
go to Princeton, the move that was to lead to his invitation to organize 
Evanston's first township high school. 

Chapter II 
Boltwood's Educational Theories 

Perhaps the striking feature of Mr. Boltwood's edu- 
cational philosophy was its catholicity. He valued sports and foreign 
languages equally, for instance, because he wanted students who 
were "receptive of all activities of life." He considered it important 
to "Avoid a narrow outlook" and "too much study in a single line. 
. . . The purpose of education is to show students that things are 
enjoyed" when they are understood. 

Again and again he remarked that "the end of education is not 
livelihood but life," and told the class of 1901: 

I would not give much for your education if your families and closest 
friends get no good out of it. Those who have won the highest honors 
in the world have not lived for self. . . . Character is the proper out- 
come of education. It does not depend on wealth ... it needs no hon- 
ored ancestry. . . . Teachers die, schools change, the lessons of books 
are forgotten, but character bides for time and for eternity. 

He once listed the specific aims of education in order of importance 
as "discipline, expression, information, outlook or horizon, taste, or 
the appreciation of what is beautiful or noble." 

Discipline he defined as the ability of the student to set himself 
to work, no matter how disagreeable the task. He believed that most 
students dropped out of school becatise of a "lack of resolute desire 
and purpose . . . the indifference of parents, of friends, and of the 
community to anything more than a very elementary education. 
Hence the dropping out of school the first time that solid work was 

However, he is never recalled as having set special stock on the 
more brilliant students. William Dimham, who was in the first class 
to spend four years under his supervision, believed that Boltwood 
prized not the diploma but the "steady determination to hold one- 
self to a four years' program," and quoted " 'Tis not the grapes of 
Canaan that repay but the high faith that failed not by the way." 
The principal thought of himself as not brilliant (others disagreed 
with this self-estimate), and not a plodder, but a "plugger." His stu- 
dents he expected to "do their level best," and he often took pains 
to j^raise particidarly less scholastically able graduates who had 

• 18. 

Boltxoood's Edruational Theories 

shown "patience, self-sacrifice, and resolution to complete their 
work.'" Their diplomas, he knew, were "more costly" in terms of 
effort— and hence more worthwhile to him. 

Citizens of Evanston believed that a high school was basically a 
college preparatory institution. Boltwood agreed and made it his 
business to see that ETHS won a j)lace on the certificated lists for 
admission to leading colleges of both the East and West. Evanston 
was the "classic town"— Boltwood taught Latin and Greek. 

However, Boltwood's ideas of a well-rounded education went be- 
yond those of the traditional follower of the Boston Latin School. 
He introduced calisthenics into the day's program at one time; in 
the afternoon everyone went through exercises that involved 
wrestling with sets of dumb-bells. He brought in typing when "every- 
body laughed at it." Because the Board refused to sanction pur- 
chase of typing equipment from school funds, the students raised 
the then huge sum of $100, and he himself taught typing after school 
hours to those who wanted it. Under Boltwood, shorthand, astron- 
omy, dramatics, and manual training also enriched the curriculum. 
ETHS was one of the first schools in the Midwest to put in science 
laboratories, to keep on its staff a "fidltime drawing teacher," and 
to encourage football, baseball, and track teams. 

Meanwhile, with the energy that seemed characteristic, Boltwood 
found time for statewide professional activities, lectured frequently 
at teachers' institutes in almost every county in the state, was from 
1876 to 1883 on the Illinois State Board of Education, and was presi- 
dent of the Illinois State Teachers' Association in 1891. 

Noticing that his high school students were extremely weak in 
spelling, and that no speller had been prepared particidarly for their 
needs, he produced his Speller, a little gray book bound in black 
that "specialized in unusual, technical words to be met with in many 
modern occupations," and was based on the theory: 

As there are few words in current use, either in business, literature, art, 
or social life, which a high school graduate is not likely to hear or use, 
many words should be given to be learned on the supposition that 
they ought to be familiar. 

He was already the author of an English grammar and a Topical 
Outline of General History. 

Behind this professional activity was a genuine scholarly interest. 
As might be expected, former students testify to this most glowingly: 

Hundreds of boys and girls . . . fortunate to have been enrolled in 
Professor Boltw^ood's classes, still hold him as the great all-around 
teacher of all. His mind was encyclopediac. He was a master in arts, 
science, history, literature, mathematics. He could converse in seven 

• 19* 


languages and read more. And with all his learning he possessed an 
understanding heart . . . knew his boys and girls. They never ceased to 

niar\el at his inexhaustible fund of information. 

Mrs. Frederick Harnwell termed him "that king of edticators." An- 
other akimniis maintained: 

. . . we, who were privileged to sit under Henry L. Boltwood, have 
something in our lives which those who were not so fortunate will 
always miss. Miss Barry (sic), Miss Edwards, and Mr. Johnson stand 
out too, but Mr. Boltwood was the soul of it all. How strange that that 
grizzled, crabbed, grim, almost forbidding man was able to imbue . . . 
such a love of learning. I measure all other educators I have ever 
known by him, and they all and always fall short of the standard. 

A superintendent of one of the grade school districts spoke for the 
community in general when he said that he "never met a more 
learned man." Observers disagreed about Boltwood's special fields: 
one considered history and literature the outstanding; another was 
impressed by his thorough knowledge of political economy and his 
"omnivorous" reading of science. He was generally acknowledged 
master of not only Latin and Greek but of French, German, Bo- 
hemian, and Italian. He had also dabbled in Spanish, Russian, and 
Porttigtiese, learning several of these last only a few years before his 

The fact appears to be that Charles J. Little, president of Garrett 
Biblical Institute, was right in maintaining that "Mr. Boltwood 
knows thoroughly more about half a dozen subjects than so-called 
specialists know of one." 

Teachers were impressed both by his "unusual scope of learning" 
and by the "mobility of his information." He could muster and 
marshal his facts in a moment. He frequently visited classes— in the 
case of the teachers at least once a month— and seemed able to take 
over discussion at an instant's notice. His manner was stich that stu- 
dents only registered hearing an amusing anecdote (at which Bolt- 
wood himself was likely to laugh so heartily that he turned red) or 
reacted to an interesting suggestion. Only the teacher, sometimes 
taking notes at her desk, recognized the art with which he instructed. 

One ability that aided Boltwood must have been the retentive 
memory testified to by everyone with whom he came in contact. Stu- 
dents he took on a tour of Europe remembered him perched on a 
touring cart in rainy Scotland reciting passages from Scott's Lady 
of the Lake. He had memorized Macauley's Lays of Ancient Rome, 
too, and hundreds of other selections. 

Impressive though Boltwood's intellectual and professional at- 
tributes were, his personal qualities may have contributed more to 

• 20 • 

BoUwood's Edii(a(i())\(d Theories 

his success at ETHS. He fitted comfortably into the community. 
Often he presented the familiar professorial figine "walking or riding 
home from the library with his arms full of books, as many as the 
rules of the library permitted him to withdraw at one time, and in 
a few days— a \ery few days— taking them back with their contents 
fixed firmh in his mind." |ust as often, he might be spotted fiishing 
from his favorite spot at the end of the Davis Street pier. 

Confident of his own knowledge, he didn't hesitate to send a 
difficidt jiroblem home for the mother of one student to solve. The 
flattered mother, a former math teacher herself, still thought him 
liighly intelligent, "the best informed person she ever knew," and 
her son still believes he learned more from his foin" years under Bolt- 
wood at ETHS than any of his children have in work at the best 
Eastern colleges. 

In the classroom, of coiuse, he was master. Students never forgot 
his favorite query, "Do you know it or do you think you know it?" 
They remembered his favorite gesture, too— the forefinger extended 
out and then down in a quick chopping movement. Underclassmen 
listened to the senior class in Greek recite to him in the assembly 
room . . . "the deep, bass rumble of Livingstone Jenks, as he towered, 
fair as a Greek god, over little John Matthews, and painfully picked 
out word by word his translation while Matthews rattled away in his 
treble." The alumna who described that scene for an anniversary 
celebration also recalls Boltwood's quiet approach upon a group of 
girls chattering too loud about a just-completed algebra test: "A 
gentle Ahem-ahem! and in a split second there stands 'one alone,' 
monarch of all he surveys." 

He never seems to have needed a stronger form of discipline than 
the dreaded interview in his private office or a week's suspension from 
school for freshmen incautious enough to carry the paper-wad battles 
of autumn too far. 

Yet despite his easy control, students felt free to call him "Bolty"— 
behind his back and in school publications, that is— and to plague 
him in print about the abstruse words in his speller. The Evanstoninn 
of 1897, for example, rhymed pungently, "B is for Bolty, the best 
of them all, Who once made a speller by which came man's fall." 
Even more pointed was the anecdote, placed prominently in a school 
j)ublication, about an ETHS jimior's father who couldn't find 
enough rare words in a standard dictionary to construct a telegraph 
code. The son placed the Speller in his hands; it "did nicely." One 
Hallowe'en a group of boys tied a clothesline to the knob of the prin- 
cipal's front door, holding it taut and releasing it suddenly as he 
pulled at the door so that he was volleyed back on the stairs leading 
to the second floor. 

• 21 • 


Behind the adolescent horseplay was recognition that "Bolty" 
stood on no false dignity. He liked to play a fast game of tennis with 
a student partner on the courts just outside the school. He even 
played football with the boys. The open game of the day was limited 
to kicking and punching the ball, but even so he took a certain risk; 
and one day tall, red-headed Charlie Shakespeare missed a punch at 
the ball, landing on Boltwood's chin instead. Stunned for a second, 
the principal shook his head and kept right on playing. 

The football field was Boltwood's work. He spotted land south 
of the school, unused largely because of a drainage ditch running 
diagonally across it. After inducing a local realtor to send out a man 
"with scoop and a team of horses to fill it up and level off the ground, 
he pitched in with the boys to clear a football field." 

He considered athletics highly important, for he was "fond of 
healthy sport ... a good thing for growing boys." It was "sometimes 
overdone," and his concern was to avoid that mistaken emphasis. 
"A growing boy can keep only one important thing in his head at 
one time." If a youngster on the football or baseball team was failing, 
he marched over to Boltwood's house— diagonally across the street 
from the school— for special coaching every evening in geometry or 
Cicero. And the principal traveled faithfully with the baseball nine 
"up and down the North Shore as it played with other schools." At 
a dubious ruling he would flip up the tail of his beloved frock coat 
and reach for a well-worn copy of Spalding's Baseball Guide. 

Twice he went on camping expeditions with students, once in 
the woods of North Michigan and in 1888 in the North Carolina 
mountains for a full month with a party of three. He vacationed as 
vigorously as he worked. Under his direction the second group 
spotted 600 species of wild plants, including 150 new to them, which 
they promptly collected and pressed for three herbariums at the 
school; they covered 250 miles of the Smoky Mountain area, pitching 
tents at eighteen different places. Boltwood took time off to inter- 
view the "natives" about their daily wages, their churchgoing habits, 
and the location of their stills. He located a nearby Cherokee Indian 
reservation and collected stones, arrows, and boxes of pottery. He 
attended a service of the Castleites, an offshoot of the Mormons, in 
a windowless wooden building. (After listening to the Exhorter, as 
the preacher was called, for nearly two hours, Boltwood found the 
backless benches and the repeated statement of the minister that 
the "privileges of God came to men through a vacuum" wearisome. 
"Well," he quipjDed, "he builded better than he knew when he called 
himself a vacuum.") 

As a cook he was unforgettable. He once left lemons in the coffee 
pot and then cooked coffee in it. (The exhausted campers who 

• 22 • 

Boltwood's Educatioiial Theories 

crawled in Irom a two-mile hike clowned the brew anyhow.) "Bolty" 
used the same kettle for boiling j:)otatoes and for washing his socks— 
although not at the same time. 

In the midst of the July expedition he heard of a teachers' institute 
being held in a mountain town. "It was like a bugle to a warhorse." 
Since his good clothes were in a trimk in Asheville, the quartet com- 
bined their resources to fit him for the institute. Only trousers were 
lacking; Boltwood's own had a large hole, but Will Dunham patched 
them with flannel normally used to make trout flies and sent the 
camp cook off with the cry, "Press where ye see my red plum shine!" 
He came back distressed to report that a teacher's pay in the area 
averaged only I15 a month— "and up but not much." 

On that trip, too, Dunham heard him angry enough to swear. It 
was the only time; but even Boltwood's control broke when he 
reached down for some firewood and stirred up a nest of angry 

Longer excursions with students were European tours in 1899 
and 1900. One group left Philadelj)hia in the middle of Jvme and 
returned from Liverpool late in August after covering Boulogne, 
Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Lucerne, Interlaken, Heidelberg, 
Cologne, Brussells, Waterloo and London— at a rate of $575 per boy, 
minus "washing and extras." As usual, the group had a "grand time." 
The spare, smiling little principal with his "wonderful powers of 
endurance even under the handicap of more or less poor health," 
walked them "off their feet" in art galleries. When they begged for 
food, he replied in words familiar to anyone who has ever taken 
children on a trip, "We didn't come to Europe to eat." But they 
admired his "fund of information . . . about all the places they 
visited." His own explanations bore out his belief that "to know a 
thing includes the power to express it . . . ability to express one's 
thought clearly is essential" and that information was valuable 
mainly for its use "jMoperly and in its right place" rather than "for 
its own sake." 

His dislike of any brand of pomp or pretense was noted by all 
ages. A teacher recalled "his glee one day when I quoted Dickens' 
description of Dr. Blimber's school. It so completely fitted the theories 
of a person who was bulky on the horizon of education." Familiars 
knew that his quiet sense of humor coidd change to "biting irony 
and scorn" when he encountered what he considered humbug and 

In the field of education, for instance, he wanted "vigorous effort" 
by the jjupil who should learn to "do a disagreeable task with a keen 
relish because it was the thing to do and the thing which had to be 
clone." At a meeting attended by nearly 300 educators, "practically all 



of them college men and many of them connected with leading 
western universities," he spoke his mind on higher education: 

What others call meanness, rascality and cowardly brutality college 
men call fun . . . (the) idea of special class privilege . . . reaches outside 
of the college into the lower schools and the rowdyism, vulgarity, and 
theft of college men are glorified. 

As his audience "stood aghast at the words, " he ripped into college 
athletic contests as an excuse for "gambling, drunkenness, theft, and 
open robbery, plundering restaurants, interfering with the right of 
the traveling public, breaking up theaters, and mobbing lecturers." 

His special complaint was against the fingering down of secret 
societies from the university to the secondary level where the "plain- 
est and purest democracy should exist . . . Everything that tends 
to interfere with the idea that all the pupils of a school are abso- 
lutely on an equal footing and are equally wards of the taxpaying 
public to be educated for citizenship, which acknowledges no class 
distinctions whatever, has an evil tendency." 

He inveighed against these societies in all-school assemblies and 
in the town newspaper. In 1901 he again spoke out against the fra- 
ternities, which he blamed for the school's loss of status in athletics 
and for the social humilation of girls "slighted and sneered at be- 
cause they were not in fraternities." In later life he regretted deeply 
his failure to abolish the societies when they first sprang in existence 
at ETHS; he had permitted them to remain at the request of a girl 
member. Perliaps he was influenced by his own pleasant memories of 
Alpha Delta Phi at Amherst; it had meant more to him, he said, 
"tlian either class or college" but had the virtues of being inexpensive 
and more than merely "an excuse for conviviality." 

Though he rarely sounded "preachy," Boltwood held firm prin- 
ciples about moral character. In a private letter he urged against 
sending a boy to West Point where "gambling . . . drinking . . . 
licentiousness . . . and expense (were) monstrous." Students were 
aware of his convictions; he opened school each morning with a 
Scripture selection "of an austere type . . . and made us smile, some- 
times, but I doubt if we have entirely forgotten the lessons or the 
earnestness of the reader . . . and his short prayer was earnest and 
honest and simple." 

Just as simply he once told a teacher dissatisfied with "meager 
returns from a rather extraordinary outlay of energy, 'But you forget 
that you are not solely responsible for these children. Vou share that 
responsibility with their parents and with their Creator'." 

This combination of sense and vmderstanding and quiet wit made 
students laugh with rather than at "Bolty" when a telephone was 


Boltwood's Educational Theories 

finally installed in his office and he was observed removing his hat 
as he bowed "proiovnidly" to the invisible mother speaking to him 
via Mr. Bell's invention. With the imerring eye of youth, they ob- 
served that his false teeth didn't quite fit so that they sometimes 
slipped out and had to be quickly tucked back in place; but they 
still were flattered by the weekly lectures he gave the senior literature 
classes to make sure he came to know all the current graduates. 

Of course, they chuckled over a report in the morning Tribune 
of Boltwood's altercation with the law. A confirmed bycyclist, he 
resented a new law confining riders to the streets; the morning of 
May 5, 1899, he was wheeling along Sheridan Road and headed for 
the walk with a policeman in close pursuit. Within a foot of the side- 
walk he spied the officer, "and suddenly turning around, laughed at 
the policeman and steered back into the street." 

Yet most of them agreed with Evarts B. Green, who himself be- 
came a distinguished scholar, that Principal Boltwood was "perhaps 
the best teacher I ever had and in a surprising variety of subjects." 

He himself regarded the public school as the "bulwark of intelli- 
gent freedom" and prized the elaborate reception given him in 1903 
when he completed his fiftieth year of teaching. 

Boltwood died on January 23, igo6, exactly as he would have 
wished. Still "quickfooted, bright-eyed" with a "firm handclasp and 
strong, clear voice," he went to the high school in the morning and 
led devotional services. (People apocryphally remembered him on 
that Tuesday as "seemingly more radiant than usual.") The rest of 
the morning the 75-year-old educator spent at his desk; one of his 
last gestures at work was to examine a pamphlet describing the work 
of the Chicago Boys' Club he had always supported. In the afternoon 
he went to the Evanston Club for his beloved game of pool, a sport 
that had replaced bicycling when an accident on wheels revealed a 
heart ailment vaguely diagnosed as "mitral insufficiency." His com- 
panion was Professor William H. Cutler. "Bolty" made a shot, then 
pressed his hand to his heart with a muttered, "Oh, dear," and stag- 
gered from the table. He died before the club steward had "time to 
fetch a pillow." 

He had known he might die at any time and had been arranging 
his affairs for several months. His outspoken fear was that he might 
drag on when he had "outlived his usefulness." Everyone was aware 
too that he welcomed the idea of sudden death instead of "lingering 
disease and long hoins of pain." 

But the living needed comfort. His son, a graduate of Amherst 
in 1881, had died three years earlier. That left only his wife and 
an adojjted daughter Gertrude to be notified. Professor Wilfred 
Beardsley, associate principal of the high school, was called to the 



To keep pace with growing enrollment, a new building 
eventually was built around the first structure so that in 
1900 E/r.H.S. had the appearance above. 

Evanston Club. He saw to it that the body went home to 1218 Benson 
Avenue, so handily near the school. Mary Barrie told the news to 
Mrs. Boltwood, who had been attending a genteel niusicale. The 
body, it was decided, wotild lie in state from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Thurs- 
day, January 25, in the assembly hall where he had often led services. 
Twelve high school boys were grouped about the coffin as a guard 
of honor— classes had been suspended for the week. Hundreds 
trooped through the hall that Thursday. The faculty arrived in a 
body for the services and moved to a special section. Hymns were 
simg, a "prominent school athlete" breaking into sobs during 
"Nearer My God To Thee." The Rev. J. F. Loba of the Congre- 
gational Church spoke of Boltwood's "high personal integrity" and 
concentration of "all powers on teaching." Then, in the "yellowish 
light of the late winter afternoon," Henry Leonidas Boltwood was 
buried in Rosehill Cemetery just after the five o'clock sunset. 

He had been principal of ETHS for 23 years. For years after his 
death the school's Annual Report opened with the sentence "The 
school stands today as a witness to Professor Boltwood's unusual 
qtjalities as scholar, teacher, and man." What kind of school had he 


Chapter III 
The School Under Boltwood 

Xo UNDERSTAND the institution ETHS became, it is 
necessary to recall what Evanston was in 1883. On the national front 
Chester Arthur was surprising everyone by backing civil service legis- 
lation; in Chicago, still pulling itself out of the destruction of the 
great fire of 1871, people remained excited about Sarah Bernhardt's 
1881 visit. Evanston itself was growing in population. 

Nevertheless, the town remained "a village of unpaved and im- 
lighted streets" with its post office the morning gathering spot for 
"merchant and professor" as they picked up their mail. Elaborate 
houses in the Queen Anne style of dormer windows, bay windows, 
balustrades and tmrets were being built; but Frances Willard eight 
years later coidd still describe a "quiet city" with its "peculiar glory 
. . . long avenues bordered with wide-spreading elms and maples and 
grand old oaks." The rest of the town she could summarize in one 
paragraj)h: a large fountain on the public square; three churches 
and a clubhouse clustering around a park a block or two away; the 
college campus a grove of huge oaks among which stand the build- 
ings; the "famous new driveway from Chicago— Sheridan Road"; a 
half dozen blocks of stores, half a score of smaller churches, four 
school buildings, a "fine high school"; and homes for about 12,000 

Churches were an important center of the town's social life; 
Frances ^Villard had established the Women's Christian Temperance 
Union eight years before, lauding the "happiest thought" of the men 
who founded the town as a home for Northwestern University and 
incorporated in the charter a law that no intoxicating liquors should 
ever be sold within four miles of the campus. 

The only type of secondary education with which these Evan- 
stonians were familiar was college preparatory and emphasized study 
of the classics. Boltwood with his long experience with the Boston 
Latin School tradition gave them the school they wanted. 

Students recalled the faculty which assisted him as "small but 
wonderfidly fine." With a first-day enrollment of only 107, which 
grew to 131 by the end of the year, teachers could know every stu- 
dent by "face and name." 



Most interesting to Evanstonians was the Miss Barrie who came 
with Bokwood from Princeton. "She sat at the entl of the platform 
during opening exercises and her skirt was so daringly short that it 
only came to her shoetops, displaying a pair of trim ankles," Fred 
Smith noticed. She taught Latin and English with such poise and 
dignity that, despite the fact that she was acknowledged "the hand- 
somest teacher that ever came across the boards in this town," disci- 
pline was "well-nigh perfect" in her classes. The same Smith, thinking 
himself safely buried in a back seat, crouched out of sight to drop a 
wad of paper down a girl's back "only to hear Miss Barrie say quietly, 
'Smith, you may take a front seat'." He wanted to "sink through the 

She had humor, however, and laughed with the class when Paul 
Boomer, later to become a prominent physician, misread the line 
"Great oaks from little acorns grow" as "Great aches from little toe 
corns grow." Even the lad whose careless penmanship at the board 
made the sentence "I am a linen draper bold" appear as "I am a 
linen diaper bold" failed to upset the tall, slender instructor. But 
Smith, who tried to teach her tennis after school, foimd that same 
poise fatal on the coints: "She stood like a graceful statue imtil long 
after the ball had gone by." 

Equally effective in the classroom but entirely different in per- 
sonality was "Grandma" Edwards. Alumni recalled Miss Barrie as 
"regally beautiful," but warned of her firm, "That will do," and re- 
ferred to an Evanstonian of 1897: 

The second is darling Miss B— . 

Her head so high she doth carr)'. 

That, raised one more speck, it would break off her neck, 

And we'd see the last of Miss B— . 

Of Miss Edwards, the same publication chuckled: 

Miss E. is next on the roll; 

Her features are comic and droll: 

She talks about pose and the pitch of the nose, 

And eyes that look out from the soul. 

Her training was impressive for those days. She had attended Frank- 
lin Academy and Collegiate Institute in Prattsburg, New York, and 
the State Normal at Oswego. She had read widely in Latin and 
picked up enough trigonometry and surveying to make an accurate 
survey of her father's farm. Like Boltwood, she served her terms of 
teaching in rural schools for sums like |i8 a month and the privilege 
of "boarding round." After twelve years of successful teaching at 


The School Under Boltiuood 

Oswego, she came to the Village High School in 1880. Her courses? 
Latin, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, rhetoric, grammar, U. S. his- 
tory, and bookkeeping. The last she took over on two days' notice, 
handling a class of 70 so successfully that she had to keep on with it 
until the drawing course she introduced at ETHS commanded all 
her time. 

She was one of the first regular teachers of art in the Middle West, 
adding to her original preparation by traveling in Europe two 
summers and taking many special courses at schools of art. When 
she wound up 35 years of teaching at ETHS— and over 50 in the field 
— Beardsley noted that many of her students had gone on to specialize 
in art, several became teachers of art, and two of these came to teach 
art at ETHS. He credited her "interest, her enthusiasm, and her in- 
tolerance of indifferent work" for these residts. 

A teacher who came to ETHS in 1908 when "Grandma" was only 
ten years from retirement draws a picture of a "big woman who wore 
glasses and dozed off in class occasionally. She wore a checked ging- 
ham apron tied around her voluminous middle and retired to a 
dressing room of some kind at noon to cook her linich in privacy." 
Alumni spoke of her with fondness. She was "sunshiny . . . beloved 
.... and somewhat imposed upon by the boys." 

Ellen White, with whom Miss Barrie lived, was a local girl who 
taught modern languages with the stress on German and had already 
established herself at the Village School. Lynden Evans, whose spe- 
cialty was Greek and who later became a lawyer, and O. H. Merwin, 
who offered a music coinse that died out officially in three years, com- 
pleted the staff. 

Teachers and students met together in the big assembly room on 
the first floor for "morning exercises." Boltwood read from the 
Scripture, and the choir sang a hymn. On alternate days a spelling 
lesson was schedided, the lists in later years coming from the formid- 
able Boltwood speller. 

There were four recitation periods between nine and twelve in 
the morning, two more between 1: 15 and 2:45 in the afternoon. Bad 
weather sometimes caused a schedule change, one graduate adds. If 
the weather was obviously inclement before students left for school 
in the morning, they brought lunches and stayed straight through 
vmtil six periods had been completed. If the weather turned bad after 
classes had already begun, the principal might send out for food for 
a school lunch. In any case, classes were dismissed early. 

One reason for this early dismissal may have been the inadequacy 
of school lighting. The first school publication, the Budget, com- 
plained that early twilight in December and January made study 
"injurious" to the eyes: 



It is painfully apparent that poor eyesight is very common in the High 
School: and the damage done to weak eyes, as well as to good ones, by 
compelling the pupils to use them in the half light of winter after- 
noons is too great to pass unnoticed or unremedied. 

The textbooks over which students labored in those ill-lighted 
rooms were likely to be written in Latin. There were four courses 
from which to choose: the Classical, the Latin Scientific, the Modern 
Language, or the English. Latin was omitted only in the English 
sequence, a three-year course for those not interested in college work. 
The most difficult of the four was the Classical, which in 1890 set up 
these requirements: First year— Latin, English reading and History, 
Physical Geography, Physiology, Grammar, and Drawing; second 
year— Caesar, Algebra, Physics, civil government, drawing, and read- 
ing combined with rhetoric; third year— Cicero, Greek, Geometry, 
Macaulay, English Prose Classics, and Shakespeare; fourth year- 
Virgil and Homer, Anabasis, General History, and English Litera- 

Students who feared Greek could elect the Latin Scientific, which 
in the first two years was the same but in the junior year substituted 
zoology, botany, and English Prose for Greek, and in the senior year, 
French. The Modern Language course in 1890 required Latin only 
in the first year, after which German was taught. By 1896, French 
was required in the fourth year. The English course seems to have 
been somewhat experimental in nature; in 1896 it was a four-year 
comse but retained its non-college preparatory tinge, since it was 
the only sequence to include bookkeeping. 

The school calendar was set up on a quarterly basis until 1901, 
when the two-semester idea was introduced. However, the regular 
school year appears to have had only three "terms," as they are listed. 
In 1895-96, for instance, the first term lasted from September 3 to 
December 2, the winter term from December 2 to March 3, and the 
spring from March 23 to June 19. The quarterly division was used 
for tests upon which the student's grade depended almost entirely; 
however, if he had an average of 90 or better, he could be excused 
from the final examination of the year. The passing mark was 70 
per cent. Monthly ratings of each student in the school were pub- 
lished, with a clever student like Anna Wilcox averaging 98 or 96 on 
each of them. 

Such routines had hardly been established that first year when 
fire broke out. The building was heated by hot air which flowed up 
through registers surrounded by wooden frames that went up in 
flames Thursday, December 20, 1883, just two days before the Christ- 
mas vacation was to start. Three flues in the west half of the building 
were on fire. The students who had never had a fire drill, left quietly, 


The School Under Boltioood 

books and coats under their arms. Some of the older boys remained 
to salvage the science apparatus. Handkerchiefs tied over their faces, 
they formed a chain on the stairway down which laboratory equip- 
ment was passed. It was eventually piled in Boltwood's basement 
across the street. Girls meanwhile snatched fiunitine from the base- 
ment apartment of the janitor and his wife. 

In fact, adults provided the major source of confusion. Hurrying 
to the scene, they kicked in basement windows, "thus giving the fire 
a fine draft." They tossed chairs, desks, and other articles from the 
windows indiscriminately, and they got in the way of the small 
Evanston fire department, which soon found the blaze too big to 
handle and sent for help from Chicago. By 3 o'clock the next morn- 
ing, the building had been saved, but floors and partitions on the 
west side were gone. Vacation was extended, and the whole school 
population finally crowded into the imdamaged portions until re- 
pairs were completed. 

A report of the "Gentlemen of the Board of Trustees" on June 
18, i88fi, indicates the steady growth of the school. The enrollment 
of 155 at the end of the first school years was now up to 171, and a 
new teacher was needed. Drawing had become an increasingly popu- 
lar course. Typewriting, introduced to go with bookkeeping, had led 
to a voluntary class in shorthand held after school hours. Boltwood 
had even proposed setting uj) a basement room with working benches 
and carpenter's tools for what was then termed manual training. 
Since only thirteen elected to take the course regularly, plans were 
dropped. Music on a regular basis was equally unpopular. Hence, 
the trustees recommended against "paying anything for a regular 
teacher." Attention was focused on a general lack of equipment— 
"no cabinet or museum and little electric apparatus." Several public 
entertainments given by the school in the three-year period since its 
opening did bring in money for books, jjictures, and groups of statues. 

The entertainments may have been speech contests. First records 
of these appear in the school scrapbook with a program dated March 
26, 1887, and entitled "Annual Prize Declamation." However, other 
jjrograms, like one of June 5, 1903, labeled the "Nineteenth Junior 
Prize Speaking Contest," indicate that these events dated back to the 
first year of the school. Admission fees of thirty-five cents were 
charged; the contests were always held at night; and the school usually 
obtained the social hall of the First Congregational Church to ac- 
commodate the crowd. 

Alumni recall the contests as a "major interest" of the junior class. 
Preliminaries were held at the school. In 1903, for instance, sixteen 
competed, the junior class being given the privilege of choosing five 
finalists, the faculty three. 



The public was also invited to what was called an "industrial ex- 
hibit" in June, 1884. Later, this exhibit came to include "all articles 
made by hand at home or at school." They ranged from oil paintings 
to "fancywork," from plants and vegetables grown by the pupils to 
jams and jellies. The first exhibit, which attracted 1,000, was held an 
extra afternoon and evening to please interested parents. One can 
imagine the impatience of the students who were permitted to sample 
the cooking entries — only after the crowd had left. 

Equally satisfactory to an Evanston that prided itself on its educa- 
tional status even then was the school's record in state contests with 
rivals. The old Village High in 1881 had entered papers on Latin, 
algebra, plane geometry, physiology, natural philosophy, English lit- 
erature, and civil government in a competition conducted by the 
State Board of Agriculture. Examinations in these areas were sent in 
sealed envelopes to the principals and opened for the first time in 
the presence of the class participating. Three papers in each classifica- 
tion were then sent on for scoring at the State Board. Against fifteen 
other schools, Evanston had placed third, with four winners. 

In 1884 the newly organized township school sent in five sets of 
papers on Latin, German, physiology, English literature, and botany. 
Three received first place. Next year Evanston sent ten entries, won 
eight first places, two second, and the two sweepstakes awards given 
the school winning the most prizes. In 1894, the final year ETHS com- 
peted, Evanston hit an "all-time high" with eight first prizes and three 
seconds. In nine years of competition a total of $424 in prize money 
had been won. It was spent for photographs, casts, art, and library 

However, in 1886, the Board of Trustees had little thought of such 
future successes. The community, it feared, was not supporting its 
school properly: 

. . . only a small part of our people have as yet come to believe that a 
high school education is to be regarded as the minimum ... to enable 
a man or woman in a community like this to enter into full apprecia- 
tion of our best culture and realize the best results of modern civiliza- 
tion. The feeling is too prevalent that a young man who is looking to 
a business life needs little except a narrow specialized training in busi- 
ness forms. No provision is deemed necessary to fit him for the wide 
range of duties and enjoyments that lie outside of his business. . . . 
More children in our community leave school early from their own 
choice or that of their parents than from any necessity. 

Boltwood had already sought to interest those businessmen with his 
typewriting class of 1884. The failure of the manual training class of 
1886 may have occurred because equipment for twelve had to serve 
twenty. And instruction was given after school hours for a fee of 


The School Under Boltxvood 

twenty-five cents a week. Short daylight hours interfered with the 
work in winter, athletics the rest of the time, and the innovation was 
given up until igoo, when it became a permanent part of the cur- 

One of the more popular classes was citizenship, apparently a rough 
equivalent of U.S. history. Mock elections were held amidst consider- 
able excitement. There were some natural confusions, of course. In 
an early "election," two registration days were scheduled, one for the 
sophomores and juniors, one for the freshmen and seniors. Speeches 
and campaigning were planned for the morning of November 6, but 
no students had prepared speeches, and so the polls opened at 8:00 
A.M. Judges and clerks manned the "booths of regulation pattern." 
Officials handed specimen ballots to the voters, who had watched 
Boltwood demonstrate how to fold them the day before in the main 
assembly room. Most voting was done during study periods, with the 
results running true to Evanston form: McKinley, 398; Bryan, 36; 
Cooley, 20; Maloney, 1; Debs, 1. No classes were held that afternoon. 

Historic art, in 1887, was another favorite. Indeed, the whole art 
department under "Grandma" Edwards operated with eclat. Classes 
visited the Chicago Art Institute so frequently that the curators in 
rooms containing copies of famous sculptures came to recognize them. 
Drawing "from the object" captured the students' fancy; clay model- 
ing led to work with plaster casts; and soon the elementary schools 
were cooperating by inaugurating art courses of their own that pre- 
pared youngsters for advanced work in charcoal, "historic ornament," 
and even architecture. 

Enrollment continued upward with an increase of nearly 25 per 
cent in 1889-90 when 216 were enrolled, the large assembly hall was 
occupied regularly for the first time, and the lower assembly hall was 
divicled into two classrooms. Boltwood was particularly proud that 
the eighty-one graduates to date included twenty-seven boys, a pro- 
portion "far in excess of some high schools in our state." Less pleas- 
ingly, the proportion of boys to girls was only a little less than fifty per 
cent, indicating the greater drop-out rate of male students. 

Important features of the curriculum, Boltwood believed, were the 
stress on literature and history, and the practical techniques used in 
teaching science. Not only did ETHS have laboratory equipment 
from the beginning but also students were encouraged to prepare 
their own herbariums, and the lively Agassiz Association stimulated 
interest in science on the extra-curricular level. 

Sponsor of the group, a small one which alumni report was "de- 
lightfully" co-educational, was Louis Johnson. This science teacher, 
a "patient and gifted" instructor in the words of a contemporary, saw 
to it that the club produced elegant displays of "plants and blossoms, 



birds and butterflies" at the annual exhibit. He is always identified 
by old-timers as the teacher who married Nellie Spaulding, one of the 
fresh-faced juniors and seniors who met one Friday night a month at 
homes of Agassiz Association's members. Various scientific subjects 
were discussed at the meetings and papers read by students, who also 
turned up for botany walks up the North Shore to the "Big Woods," 
near what is now Niles Center. 

Johnson, who came to ETHS in 1886 for an active five years of 
service, was termed "our first real teacher in science" who "produced 
a vigorous growth in that department by his enthusiasm and untiring 
energy." He went to Harvard for special study and then taught at Ann 
Arbor, but ETHS was richer by the beginnings of several valuable 
collections in his specialty, microscopic botany. A second outstand- 
ing teacher of science was Louis Westgate. He came to ETHS in 1893 
with a strong professional background in his major field of geology. 
Still another science teacher, W. G. Alexander, arrived in 1896. Like 
the others, incidentally, he was impressed by Boltwood's "personal in- 
terest" in the department's work, "always such a prominent and in- 
tense thing that we were . . . inspired by it." In this case, Boltwood's 
intellectual curiosity was aroused by Alexander's X-ray experiments; a 
special assembly demonstrated wireless telegraphy. 

Another newcomer to the staff in this early period of expansion 
was a fellow who applied for a Latin and Greek vacancy. "Pretty 
young?" inquired Mr. Boltwood quizzically after he had left their 
home. Yes, he was pretty young, thought Mr. Boltwood, but "well- 
qualified for the place." The applicant was Wilfred Fitch Beardsley, 
who was to spend 34 years at ETHS and become its second principal. 
He established himself easily with the students who teased him in 
the gossip columns of the school publications but respected his mas- 
tery of subject matter and somewhat aloof courtesy. Before long, 
Beardsley's voice was heard in the rear of the assembly room, picking 
up the words dictated first in Boltwood's now somewhat feeble voice. 
He was appointed assistant principal in 1899, only six years after he 
came to ETHS, and associate principal in the following year. 

Disciplinary tactics remained mild. A serious conference in Bolt- 
wood's room remained the major method. Suspension was also prac- 
ticed. In 1899 eight boys and one girl in the junior class were sus- 
pended for an "indefinite length of time . . . because of inattention at 
recitations, misbehavior in assembly hall and while passing to and 
from classes." They were back at school within a week. Seven years 
earlier, suspension had punished a group of boys who met in the 
school attic on a Friday afternoon in December, placed a knife across 
electric wires in such a way that it completed a circuit and set all the 
bells to ringing. They then raced down to the basement where they 


The School Under Boltxuood 

clanged away with a large handbell until caught by a teacher who 
"took their names." They were suspended the moment "Bolty" re- 
turned from a trip. In this case, some community pressure seems to 
have been exerted, for the Board was called upon to uphold the 
principal's action. By Thursday of the next week, the culprits ap- 
peared in time for morning prayers and listened to Boltwood read 
their joint letter of apology to the assembled school. 

Prevention seems to have been the emphasis. Chicago schools were 
known for "Roughneck Day" when the boys arrived minus suits and 
ties. On that date, teachers posted at all ETHS doors made sure no 
Evanstonian sought to imitate this reprehensible behavior. Even study 
halls posed few problems. The teacher who was just missed by an egg 
that splattered instead on the blackboard behind him was honestly 
amazed. A faculty meeting called immediately (such was the size of 
the staff then!) probed the matter. The teacher suspected a "dull- 
witted" but unfalteringly amiable lad, and the mathematics instruc- 
tor proved his point by measuring the angle at which the egg hit and 
tracing it back to its source. The youngster admitted his guilt. He 
had been persuaded to hurl the egg by a practical joker, who was ac- 
cordingly punished. 

Boltwood's discipline, however, was considerably more stringent 
than that of the first year. A man who "started" with him believes he 
had an exaggerated notion as to the amount of self-control possessed 
by Evanstonians. He had at first permitted them to talk to each other 
at will in the study halls — "we just gossiped and joked" — and go to 
the library without supervision — "we clambered out of the first-floor 
window and arrived home for lunch fifteen minutes early." Feeling 
the temper of the group more exactly, he soon took away these privi- 
leges, but he was never a man of quick rages and his attitude seems to 
have infected the rest of the teachers. 

Even when the boys dropped a pair of rubbers down the large pipes 
leading to the registers and the odor of burning rubber nearly caused 
early dismissal, "Bolty" merely adjusted his spectacles to the end of his 
nose and hunted down the mischief-makers. He knew how to handle 
the freshman who "accidentally" dropped a coin just as morning ex- 
ercises were about to begin, sending all the others in a scramble for 
it. For him and for the prankster who slipped a paper with "a choice 
quotation up under the collar of the boy in front" just before he 
marched up to recitation, "Boltwood had a standard lecture, known 
as the "bi-monthly talk on 'childishness.' " 

Practical joking seems to have been at a minimum, considering 
the relatively few outlets students had. There was, after all, no physi- 
cal education program. Tennis and baseball were the teams in the 
8o's. The baseball team competed successfully with other schools, but 



the football squad practiced on any available vacant lot. Records of 
an Athletic Association appear in 1896. Teachers and students be- 
longed as dues-paying members, and the money thus collected covered 
such items as "Chase — car fare, 35 cents," "Mr. Dittmer — for fixing 
tennis courts, $9," "Oak Park spread, I5." As always, Boltwood headed 
the Association which had its "stormiest" meeting over the disposition 
of prize money won by the football team in 1897 and its most patron- 
izing when "for the first time in history . . . young lady members . . . 
dared to come in the presence of the boys and ask that the association 
provide them with a new basketball." The minutes conclude with 
some pride, "It was done immediately." Basketball in those days was 
strictly a girls' sport. 

Music was still not in the curriculum, although a Glee Club and 
a choir appeared in 1897. 

Extracurricular activities were few indeed: the Agassiz Association, 
the Boltwood Literary Society, which sprang up in the late 1890's and 
died young, occasional plays in the assembly hall. Other clubs like the 
Shakespeare and the camera clubs mushroomed briefly and disap- 
peared in a year's time. 

The Prize Speakings, however, grew in significance. In 1901 Miss 
Effyan Wambaugh supervised the seven competitors in a contest 
which definitely had elements of drama. Music opened the evening 
at the First Congregational Church. Listed as "mandolins and guitar," 
it must have been the fashionable Mandolin Club which at its height 
included a violin and txuo guitars. Junior girls ushered, and, to con- 
tinue the junior motif, a sheaf of flowers in the class colors rested im- 
portantly on the organ. Three judges seated themselves toward the 
front, and then the speakers entered in a slow march in order of their 
selection from an anteroom at the left of the platform. They occu- 
pied a pew at the right of the chinch, moving up as each one com- 
pleted his selection. Four of the offerings, it was reported, were mar- 
tial; the rest humorous or pathetic. They ranged from Kipling's 
"Wee Willie Winkie" to something called "Sally Ann's Experience," 
which brought Helen Thomas first prize. The ordeal over, a banquet 
was held at a pupil's home with a toastmistress and further selections 
on the agenda. 

Social activities were conducted largely on a private basis. Near 
graduation time a few class dances and parties were given. They be- 
gan at 8 o'clock and "ended at the hour that youngsters of today get 
ready to go." After the appearance of fraternities and sororities in 1894, 
they scheduled several events each year, usually one or two dances, a 
few "spreads," and perhaps a benefit performance for the school. 

There was the class feuding typical of the era. At the senior social 
in 1897, which featured progressive games from poker to blind euchre, 


The School Under Boltivood 

underclassmen conducted a successful attack on the three cakes that 
were to have been refreshments. Seniors seeking revenge found the 
doors of the home tied and had to leap through windows for an un- 
successful chase. Seniors and juniors had combined forces a year 
earlier to raid the sophomore social. In this encounter, one sophomore 
emerged with a black eye, another lost his new spring cap, and all 
were daubed with fresh paint. But the class history recounts proudly 
that "the ice cream was saved!" 

A forerunner of counseling methods appears in the mention 
of afternoon meetings sponsored by the Commercial Department at 
which businessmen were invited to speak. Another device was em- 
ployed to help students who were planning on college. Boltwood 
asked alumni from fifteen universities and colleges to write him esti- 
mating the worth of the schools they were now attending. His object, 
according to a newspaper clipping of 1898, was to "keep the school 
in touch with its collegiate alumni and to aid those who are yet vm- 
decided what college to attend. To the senior classes he then read the 
responding letters from Michigan, Dartmouth, Baltimore Woman's 
College, Northwestern University, Oberlin, Wisconsin, Bryn Mawr, 
Colorado College, Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, Princeton, MIT, Illi- 
nois State Junior College, Vassar, and Chicago University. 

Far more permanently organized, however, was the Back Lots 
Society. Volney Foster suggested it in February, 1891. Each year there- 
after the society offered a series of talks by business and professional 
leaders to the "young man of fifteen to twenty-five years of age" who 
were eligible to join. Meetings were held in the "Shelter," a log cabin 
type of building near the tennis courts in the rear oi Foster's estate. 
Though the club had social aspects, with huge "fteds" at the fireplace 
in the "Shelter," its stated purpose was to aid members in choice of a 
life work as well as to give a general fund of information. Membership 
was limited to 65, "this being all the meeting place will hold," accorcl- 
ing to a descriptive pamphlet. Only pupils at ETHS or the Academy 
were invited to join, and they were dropped if they missed more than 
two consecutive meetings. 

The speeches every fortnight were supplemented by excursions to 
the state prison, iron mills and quarries at Joliet, to Deer Park and 
Starved Rock in LaSalle County, to the glass, tile and pottery works 
at Ottawa, and to the Deering Harvester Works at Chicago, where 
Charles Deering himself acted as host. Perhaps the liveliest meeting, 
however, was one at which a group of Sioux Indians held as prisoners 
of war at Fort Sheridan visited the Shelter. "Bolty" brought them back 
from Fort Sheridan with the help of six armed privates and a lieuten- 
ant; 2,000 Evanstonians met the train, and hundreds of youths ran 
alongside the procession to the Oak Avenue entrance to the Shelter. 



There the Indians described in sign language their trip from the fort, 
ate sandwiches, doughnuts and coffee "as if they were laying in stores 
for a long campaign," and filled their handkerchiefs with leftovers. 
The boys trotted them over to the gymnasium of the YMCA for an 
exhibition on the rings and parallel bars that "called forth something 
like applause." From the "Y" the Indians ambled over to the Evanston 
Club, where they amazed the society by eating as heartily as if they 
had not stuffed themselves fewer than two hours before. 

Boltwood, first president of the society, backed it strongly. When he 
resigned in 1896, H. F. Fiske of the Academy took over. Foster pro- 
vided even more substantial support. Perpetual treasurer of the club, 
he collected all dues from himself! 

Clubs of which Boltwood soon came to disapprove heartily were 
the secret fraternities. Gamma Sigma for boys and Delta Kappa Phi 
for girls appeared at ETHS in 1894 with his consent, although he 
warned members that if the groups proved undesirable they would 
be eliminated. The first year of trial showed, he believed, "more 
clannishness, dishonesty, and lack of faithful study. . . . The school 
lacks unity, and the societies, although not wholly, are largely to 
blame." For the sake of the school, he asked both fraternities to dis- 
band. They refused, and forced dissolution was made especially diffi- 
cult by the fact that members came from Evanston's most prominent 
families. The president of the Board admitted that there was no legal 
way to expel a student from a public institution for belonging to a 
fraternity. Since the school had never allowed meetings, initiations, or 
other ceremonies to take place in the building, a stalemate had been 
reached. Eventually the school had seven such societies with a total 
membership of 75 out of the 500 enrolled at ETHS. The problem 
was to endure through two more administrations. 

Meanwhile, the girls in their porkpie sleeves, shirtwaists, and 
straight skirts sported pins like silver dirigibles and met at each other's 
homes for "spreads." The boys played tennis and skated with them. 
The "barbarians" did much the same except for occasional sensitive 
ones who suffered so much from exclusion that they dropped out of 
school, and there was one case no one ever mentioned — that of the 
girl who committed suicide when her lifetime friend was pledged and 
she was not. 

Meanwhile, Miss Barrie continued to shepherd Latinists through 
the Gallic War with a "grace and dignity" that one girl found "ad- 
mirable but frightening." Professor Louis Westgate entertained soph- 
omores learning biology by his ability to hit the chalk box with a stick 
of chalk at fifteen feet. Miss Mary Childs talked with amazing rapid- 
ity of history and civics, and Professor Beardsley was due back from 
his year of graduate study at Johns Hopkins. The Anti-Cigarette 


The School Under BoUivood 

League, sparked by a vigorous speaker who felt that budding woman- 
hood could persuade youths against the vicious weed, evoked uneasy 
laughter from senior boys. They knew that girls were changing in 
1900, despite their ability to sweep, dust, clean, wipe down the stairs, 
wash, iron, mend, bake and sustain an interest in "keeping white" 
with complexion soap upon arising and Cream Marquise at night. 
Like their mothers, they learned to manipulate long skirts, a parasol, 
and a purse while making the endless rounds of calls. But they also 
confidently mastered irregular Latin verbs. Joule's heat law, and cro- 
quet. They planned for a husband — or a job. (Work in a settlement 
house occupied the status of airline hostessing today.) These ladylike 
creatures were much on display at the annual Open House. 

In 1897, the Board of Education had invited the "patrons ... to 
meet principal, teachers, board members." An informal affair, it at- 
tracted between 350 and 400 to the main assembly room "handsomely 
decorated with palms, ferns, and a generous display of bunting" and 
was believed to have brought "parents . . . not only into closer touch 
with teachers but into more real sympathy with the work of the school 
. . . (which) had gained in reputation, and now stands foremost among 
the schools of its class in the state." 

A more elaborate event in 1900 is completely described by the Rec- 
ord, an early school publication. Parents and friends arrived Friday, 
October 10, to tour the school. Recitations were shortened five min- 
utes in each period. Pictures were hung in hallways, woodwork 
washed, furniture dusted, classrooms arranged with "samples of 
work." Visitors were met at the entrance by senior girl ushers who 
showed them where to hang wraps and shepherded them to the li- 
brary, where Board of Education members awaited them. The next 
stop was the office, where Boltwood and Beardsley greeted them. 
Then the ushers guided them upstairs to the drawing room, where 
Miss Edwards presided, and the better paintings were thoughtfully 
displayed on easels. Next door was Miss Elizabeth Grimsley, later to 
become a freshman homeroom director, but at this point merely the 
mentor of the freshman making his first acquaintance "of Latin de- 
clensions and conjugations." The neighboring German room was 
tastefully decorated with pictures of noted German men, and at the 
end of the north hallways was Miss Barrie's Latin room. Other teach- 
ers on the second floor were Mr. Marquis Newell (mathematics). Miss 
Childs (civics and general history), Mr. Froula (greeting everyone 
with a suitable "Valde"), Miss Bushnell (English), Miss Adams 
(French), Miss Moore (clay modeling). A room to the south of this 
was elegantly festooned with photographs and maps used by the phys- 
ical geography and English history classes. Last stop was the main as- 
sembly room. Downstairs was Miss Cooley's senior assembly room, 



Miss Grover's freshman assembly room, and Miss Effyan Wambaugh's 
elocution room, where "many loving parents lingered." Mr. Beards- 
ley's Greek room, interestingly enough, had no exhibits, but the bio- 
logy room was well-furnished with lizards and frogs, drawings of 
leaves, and the like. Two science rooms, one for physics and one for 
chemistry, remained to be seen with the more athletically-inclined 
visitors completing the tour in the basement where the manual train- 
ing department proudly exhibited samples of cabinetwork. Manual 
training, with the stress on woodworking, had worked its way into 
the curriculum by 1900. Unexpectedly, it was planned for the college- 
bound. Hence, in the first year, Latin was required; the English 
course, which was now a four-year one aimed at the non-college- 
bound, substituted bookkeeping and arithmetic for the language. 
Latin continued in the second year, displacing botany and zoology; 
in the third year, chemistry was omitted in favor of Cicero and daily 
Latin composition; and in the fourth year, the Manual Training ma- 
jor tackled Virgil and Ovid. Now there were four courses from which 
the student might select, although his first year of classes varied 
little unless he chose the English course, the only one in which Latin 
was not required. (It was dropped in 1904.) A note in the school cata- 
log of 1902-03 reminded that, to graduate, every student must take 
one of the five curricula, earning at least 50 credits in a prescribed 
sequence. The ruling went into effect, it was explained, because, in 
the preceding graduating class, more than half had taken a "special" 
diploma which "stands for nothing definite and does not give admis- 
sion to college." 

The two-semester calendar was in force, and "after several experi- 
ments," the daily schedule had been set from 8:45 to 12:00 with a 
break for lunch, after which classes resumed at 1: 10. The day ended 
at 2:40. Periods ran 45 minutes each. Class size was held down to 
25, with a maximum of 16 for science courses. Report cards came out 
at the end of each school month. Although clever students were per- 
mitted to take extra work, others were officially advised to take a 
"partial course" and spend more than four years in high school, if 
necessary, to graduate. At least two and one-half hours of home study 
was expected. Entrance tests were given. Everyone must pass examina- 
tions on "all the common English branches" before being accepted. 

Observing his fiftieth anniversary as an educator in 1904, Boltwood 
reported some data he had collected. The average admission age at 
ETHS was 14 years and nine months. Boys formed about two-fifths 
of the total enrollment. One-third of all students completed their 
courses to graduate, with the "most marked" falling off at the end 
of the first year. And it was noted that the younger the student was 


The School Under Boltwood 

as a freshman, the more likely he was to graduate. Forty-five per cent 
of all graduates went on to college. 

On April 7, 1903, the idea of the daily session had again been pre- 
sented to the Board in a statement prepared by the able assistant to 
Mr. Boltwood, Wilfred Fitch Beardsley. High school teachers unani- 
mously requested a school day beginning at 8:15 and closing at 1:00 
P.M. Pupils with no sixth-period class would be excused at the end 
of their fifth period, 12:15. The schedule provided for closing the 
building from 1:00 until 2:30, after which it would reopen for study, 
library use, and consultation with teachers from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. A 
carefully worked out schedule would guarantee that each teacher 
would spend one afternoon a week back at school with a minimum of 
four teachers present in the building each afternoon. 

Among the reasons for the one-session program was the "scantiness 
of the present lunch period, a bare hour and ten minutes; the disorder 
presently apparent in the building during the lunch period, more 
than at any other time in the day ... as the building has to be left open 
to pupils who bring their lunch to school and to others who live near 
and who can return before the arrival of any of the teachers; the suc- 
cess of such single sessions with other high schools; and the interfer- 
ence of the afternoon classes with football and baseball team schedules 
as well as with their full use of the Northwestern practice field when 
neither university nor academy squads demand it." The faculty re- 
quested a four-week trial of the session and it proved so successful that 
it remained in effect for many years. 

The same year saw a partial provision for sports. The school itself, 
of course, lacked playing fields for its teams and inside gymnasium 
facilities for the rest of the boys. However, the YMCA cooperated to 
offer a special class for high school boys who joined the "Y." At the 
time, of the 170 boys at the high school, 70 already belonged; in in- 
augurating its program, the "Y" asked that 50 more join. A |io fee 
was charged for full membership. Classes were to meet afternoons 
from 2:30 until 4:00, so one can imderstand the desire to eliminate 
the double session. Practice in indoor-ball, basketball, and track 
athletics was promised. Letters sent home with the boys apparently 
brought a favorable response, for seven years later Mr. Beardsley 
warmly lauded a program that now extended to swimming as well. 
'Turthermore, the Young Men's Christian Association authorities 
have been most generous in allowing us the use of the gymnasium for 
our contests with other schools." 

The provision for boys' sports climaxed a program of curriculum 
expansion that had begun in 1900 when Boltwood introduced me- 
chanical drawing on a regular basis, with 90 boys and one girl signing 



up immediately; reinstalled manual training; arranged for some phys- 
ical education work tor girls; and even obtained the Board's approval 
for a cooking class. 

By 1902, the manual training course had "passed the experimental 
stage . . . well-equipped for woodwork (with) ... a three-horsepower 
dynamo, seven lathes, a hand saw, and benches and tools for classes 
of sixteen." Its popularity had been clear from the beginning; in June 
of 1899, 551 had said they would enroll in such a class if it were pro- 
vided. Classes for 80 were scheduled and 92 applied in September. 
Preference was given freshmen and sophomores who could complete 
what was seen as a four-year sequence. 

The physical culture course for girls was conducted by Miss Effyan 
Wambaugh, the strong-minded and voiced teacher of elocution 
classes. "The girls," it was noted, "are showing quite an interest in 
the work, and it promises to be one of the most popular of the school 
studies." As for the cooking class, the Board allotted money only for 
heat, light, and water. Teaching, apparently, was gratis, with a Mrs. 
A. H. Gross or "any responsible association of ladies" permitted to use 
the west basement room south of the main entrance on Benson Ave- 
nue for instruction. The Board's hesitance was caused by some com- 
munity feeling that "A month's experience in cooking will do more 
good than a year's theoretical study." Nevertheless, 55 girls enrolled. 
And, illustrating the truism that students never really change, a Lost 
and Found Department was in existence in 1903 when an office work- 
er's desk drawers were reported in the November Budget, another 
early school publication, to be "overflowing with superfluous matter 
anywhere from pocketbooks down to hair ribbons and hat pins." 

As had happened at Princeton and Ottawa under Boltwood's ad- 
ministration, the excellence of the school program drew tuition stu- 
dents. In 1900, for instance, $2,000 in tuition fees was collected with 
the majority of the outsiders coming from the North Shore area. Bolt- 
wood was proud of that and of the range of honors that came to his 
school — honors in scholarship and, equally, the fact that Chicago cor- 
porations would take on their payrolls without question any boy he 
recommended. The worth of the ETHS college "diploma," as it was 
then called to indicate that students receiving it had specifically pre- 
pared lor university entrance, was a soince of j^leasure to him. But so 
was the ability of the baseball nine to snatch a League title from 
Hyde Park. 

And he was quietly smug about his own ability to recall every one 
of his pupils, no matter how old they might be, if they would just 
mention their name to him. His failure to recollect one Chicago man 
distressed him so much that Miss Barrie recalled it in a letter of 
1933. The slip must have come in his late years when he still came to 


Till'. School Under Boltwood 

school each morning, but Associate Principal Beardsley still did most 
of his work. Though "Bolty" made few such slips toward the end, he 
was one of the "thinking few" he liked to describe in a favorite rliyme: 

Tliougli a man a thinking being is definccl 
Few use the grand prerogative of mind 
How few tliink justfy of ttie tfiinking few- 
How many never think who think they do. 


Chapter IV 
Beardsley Becomes Principal 

At MR. boltwood's death in 1906, the Board of Edu- 
cation was quick to appoint Wilfred Fitch Beardsley as principal. The 
choice was "a popular one." For the past five or six years, he had been 
"intrusted with more and more of the duties of the office"; and he 
was possessed of "scholarly attainments, administrative ability, and 
personal qualifications." Boltwood died January 23; the Board an- 
nounced its choice of Beardsley February 17. No other candidate can 
have been seriously considered. 

His background, imlike Boltwood's, was Midwestern. He was born 
in Albion, Wisconsin, in 1870. The son of a Congregational minister, 
he attended nearby Beloit Academy, where he made an excellent aca- 
demic record. His interest in the classics must have been stimulated 
there by Theodore Wright, the teacher of Greek; Dr. Calland, in 
Latin; and the principal himself, Almond Burr, who taught "peda- 
gogy" with an emphasis on both Latin and Greek, going so far as to 
turn out several books on the best methods of instructing in those 

When his father was called from Clinton, Wisconsin, to a North 
Shore post, Beardsley continued his studies at the Preparatory School 
of Northwestern under Dr. Fisk. Again his record was outstanding, 
and no one was surprised when he was graduated from Northwestern 
in 1893 with honors that included the Deering prize and member- 
ship in Phi Beta Kappa. He was already establishing a reputation for 
scholarly achievement — and for reserve. He was left in the mock class 
with a pocket of calling cards with "instructions to use them." A man 
who was several classes behind him explains this comment as a refer- 
ence to his apparent lack of interest in girls. The same authority de- 
scribes him as "rather unapproachable even then." Though a member 
of Beta Theta Phi, one of the best fraternities, he spent most of his 
time with only one "brother," Harry Pearsons, who was to become 
mayor of Evanston. "I can see him now," recalls the fellow student al- 
ready quoted, "walking up the aisle of the First Methodist Church 
with Pearsons on Sunday morning, both of them in elegant morning 
coats with the tails flapping." 

This somewhat aloof, proud young minister's son seemed to oiU- 


Wilfred Fitch Bfardsi.ev 

Second Principal of E.T.H.S. 




siders to have no money problems in college. Actually, he had to earn 
most of his expenses. He lived at the Pearsons home, and that helped; 
but he was handy at carpentry, too, and was perfectly willing to pick 
up odd jobs of repair when his specialty of cabinet work was un- 
wanted. During these years he is said to have loved and become en- 
gaged to Mary Pearsons, Harry's sister; her unexpected death of 
diphtheria is supposed to have confirmed him in what was almost a 
lifetime bachelorhood. 

But the 1893 honor graduate who successfully applied to Mr. Bolt- 
wood for the vacancy in Greek and Latin showed no signs of a secret 
sorrow. A handsome, more than six-footer, he was dignified and ex- 
tremely well-dressed. In later years he was affirmed to have 25 differ- 
ent suits in his closet at the University Club and never to wear a shirt 
more than once. Toward the end of his life he owned sixty pairs of 
shoes; he "had enough of picking through the missionary barrels for 
clothes" in his youth. 

Once he headed ETHS, new male teachers soon came to under- 
stand that immaculate grooming was essential, and that term was de- 
fined as wearing a good navy suit to school. (Boltwood of the un- 
pressed pants and shabby frock coat would have been amused.) Mr. 
Beardsley lost his hair early. Asked for a first flash reaction to the 
name "Beardsley," a contemporary chuckled, "That shiny pate!" 
However, students were proud of their principal's appearance and of 
his gentlemanly manner, as exquisite as his linen. 

Like Boltwood, he became a familiar figure around Evanston, al- 
though he was never the man to fish from a pier. Instead he was 
spotted at 4 o'clock each morning astride a high-stepping Kentucky 
thoroughbred worth $1,000. The passing of the town's last livery 
stable occasioned him genuine sorrow, since he was forced to dispose 
of his three-gaited horse. He turned then to a large black Cadillac 
from which, characteristically, he had all chromium removed. He 
learned to drive it himself but often hired a June graduate to chauf- 
feur him during the summer. 

Beardsley's school year was virtually a twelve-month one. Before 
he became principal he took off a year to study at Johns Hopkins, 
sitting under Gildersleeve, dean of American scholars at that time and 
a great classicist. Aside from this one leave of absence, Beardsley gave 
"day and night, weekdays and Sundays" to the school. The one sum- 
mer vacation he attempted he found unpleasant and never repeated. 
He thought it more important to contemplate repairs, building ad- 
ditions, the interminable bond issues — and, always, to make himself 
available to youngsters still unsettled about their college plans, as 
well as to the newcomers to the high school with program problems. 

He was probably at his best with students, mellowing as the years 


Bcardsley Becomes Priiuipal 

went by until teachers occasionally ielt he gave too many second 
chances, and third ones, too. His primary method ol discipline was 
to call in students to his office and talk with them until they under- 
stood their wrong-doing. Alumni who had been called in rather too 
often agreed that "No matter how he scolded you, you never left his 
office feeling less of a man." After the first World War and the arrival 
of the jazz era, he proved surprisingly understanding — even when 
high school boys began using profanity and a few were said to patron- 
ize bootleggers. "These youngsters pick it up from their soldier broth- 
ers," he explained to a teacher. "It doesn't mean to them what it does 
to us." 

His most frequently mentioned custom, as far as students were 
concerned, was certainly passing out each report card to the individ- 
ual with a brief comment, "Good work there, Anne," or "You can 
do better than that next time, I'm sure. Bill." His arrival at the end 
of each marking period was an event. A woman maintains, "I'm sure 
he helped me do good work. I looked forward so to his little com- 
ment." Another method that helped him know all students was re- 
quiring them to come to him for absence slips, an indication of the 
relatively small enrollment in those days, his dislike for delegating 
tasks, and his amazing assiduity. As a teacher of the period points out, 
he made students feel that he was directly interested in their work, 
and this kindly awareness was deeply significant to them. 

Less known was his special fondness for helping Negro students 
develop special talents. Lending one boy enough to buy a musical 
instrument, he commented, "I've never lost a cent loaning to them." 

However, his private banking practice was particularly aimed to 
help teachers. He came to carry $300 in his pocket at all times; the 
wad of bills, too big to fit into a wallet, was fastened with an elastic 
band. His reason: "Somebody on the staff might need money in a 
hurry when the banks are closed." No secretary went on a vacation 
without being asked, "Do you need any money?" If illness struck a 
teacher's family, Mr. Beardsley was prone to approach the instructor 
at once with an offer of a loan. Obviously he could always cash a 
check — and often did. One new teacher who discovered his furniture 
was to arrive on a Saturday was glad of that fact. 

The same genial paternalism was evident in other ways. When a 
promising young teacher contracted sleeping sickness, Beardsley slept 
with the phone at the head of his bed to get word from the hospital in 
case the man should die. The principal wanted to go to the teacher's 
wife immediately. Similarly, he opened a telegram addressed to a 
woman teacher whose mother was known to be seriously ill, discovered 
the mother had indeed died, gently broke the news to the teacher, and 
put her in the taxi he had ordered to take her to the train and home. 



A Streak of humor showed through more often with his intimates 
than with the general faculty. Dwight Bobb knew that Beardsley 
"loved a good story and would laugh until the tears came." The prin- 
cipal would even plan a practical joke on a close friend with "the 
zest of a school boy." Those teachers who knew him well treasured his 
little quips. The woman who rushed in excitedly to complain of a 
student with the words, "This will make your hair stand on end" 
never forgot his answer. Patting his shiny dome, he retorted, "Not 
mine." Another, who requested wider distances between the rows of 
desks — doubtless in the days when the old school was jam-packed — 
was informed, "Not necessary. We'll just get a smaller teacher." The 
wry note survived to the days of his final illness in California when 
he inquired pensively of his nurse, "Is there anything in the laws of 
California that would keep one from having fresh peas more than 
once in a week?" Unfamiliar with his brand of humor, the nurses had 
to be reassured. 

Like Boltwood, he had speech tags. His favorite opening remark 
was always, "What do you know today?" And he was fond of demand- 
ing with mock belligerence, "W^ho rang that bell?" The stoiT behind 
the remark again goes back to the days of overcrowding in the old 
building. \\Tth space at a premium, teachers had to find corners to 
grade papers. A Spanish instructor located a table just outside Beards- 
ley's office. But the corner was dark, and she absentmindedly pressed 
a button just above the table. The button was the fire alarm, and 
classes poured from their rooms into a rain outside while Beardsley 
roared out of his office the line that became a stock joke, "W'ho rang 
that bell?" 

To his students, "Uncle Billy," as some of the more daring boys 
liked to call him — behind his back — was more formal. True, in his 
first years as a relatively carefree teacher of Greek, the hearty laugh 
rang out. Recalled one such pupil, "I can still picture Mr. B. as he 
sat at the end of a table in his inner office with five students around 
the table. To sit at the table with Mr. Beardsley was like sitting with 
the old gods themselves. Some days he would read us various transla- 
tions of the Iliad, especially Pope's, and, doing so, he would lean back 
in his chair and laugh heartily." 

But later, Radford Stearns, one of the summer chauffeurs, was 
surprised to find himself "completely at ease" with his new employer, 
who had earlier called him into the office several times about "keep- 
ing up those grades." Now the principal not only refrained from 
offering driving instructions but made little jokes about the people 
he saw through the windows of the Cadillac. 

Just as in college, stories conflicted about Beardsley. The newer 
teachers were often "rather afraid of him." One hesitated for some 


Bcardslcy Becunics Principal 

time about bobbing her hair for fear of conservative Mr. Beardsley's 
dislike of the "flapper" style. Another nearly refused a job at ETHS 
because she decided in the initial interview that he was a "man wear- 
ing a mask and couldn't be sure what lay behind the mask." Years 
later, having taken the job, she concluded that he wore the mask 
for himself as well as for others and that behind it was a man self- 
conscious and ill at ease with most people. She would have been sur- 
prised to know that, following World War I, two women teachers 
who decided to build a house enjoyed the attentive help of Mr. B. 
Indeed, he became their first dinner guest and made a complete 
tour of the house. Spotting a single flaw in the incomplete finish on a 
bookcase, he apologized quickly, "Oh, 1 shouldn't have said that. 
The house is really perfect." He could certainly be very kind as when 
he set about to retire "Grandma" Edwards, then long past teaching 
efficiency. He engaged her nej^hew to teach in another department of 
the school and then suggested to her tactfully that, since the Edwards 
tradition was being continued at ETHS, this might be the moment 
for her to leave. She determined to keejj house for her nephew and was 
honored by a farewell j^arty at which Beardsley arrived with her on his 
arm, "every inch the Prince," as his feminine admirers called him 
among themselves. 

Those who knew him best agree that he was "genuinely unassum- 
ing and retiring." He never talked about his personal affairs. He 
joined no groups, refusing the presidency of the Evanston Club several 
times, though he had been active in its formation. He did accept mem- 
bership on the building committee of the University Club and was 
always proud that the building opened two days ahead of schedule. In 
general, however, he avoided public contacts. The long fight over the 
new building which occupied much of his term as principal forced 
him to give many speeches, but he talked always from a complete 
text. Not only did he fear being misquoted, but he felt that his voice 
was poor and found the whole experience enervating. "It took his 
heart's blood" is the way one teacher put it. He much preferred put- 
ting his projects across by suggestion rather than by open propaganda. 

These characteristics must have made peculiarly painful for him 
the two primary problems he faced as principal: wresting from an em- 
battled and divided Evanston agreement on a site for the vitally 
needed new high school building and countering post-war criticism 
of a strictly classical curriculum to which he was deeply committed. 

The opening years of his administration hardly indicated the tur- 
moil that was to come, however. He had time to concentrate on per- 
fecting (the word perfectionist is frequently associated with him by 
those who worked closely with him) the administrative routines that 
would make the school run smoothly. His work in this area left a 



permanent imprint upon ETHS. The bulletin of 1906 — a four-page 
catalog which Beardsley saw to it went to every eighth-grader — indi- 
cates more completely the entrance exams incoming freshmen must 
take. Students must pass "satisfactory examinations in arithmetic, 
English grammar, and U.S. history . . . promotion certifications from 
Evanston and Chicago graded schools will be accepted in jilace of 
exams . . ." The statement was to remain the same as late as Septem- 
ber, 1923. Teacher conference hours or afternoon study assignments 
at first were assigned by individual slips. Later Miss Janet Lee typed a 
careful stencil showing the whole schedule. Incidentally, by 1912 the 
single session was more a myth than reality. The commercial course, 
installed by the Board over Beardsley's stiff insistence that such work 
could better be taught in a business college or on the job, required 
classes from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. in stenography, typewriting, book- 
keeping, and accounting. Laboratory work in science courses was also 
set for two afternoons each week. On Thursdays a choral class of 150 
boys and girls met from 1:15 to 2:00, a class in harmony from 2:00 to 
2:45, and special speed classes in typing were granted the last half 
hour until 4:30. The manual training course, again introduced (on a 
broader scale by far than the woodworking sessions of Boltwood's 
day) by the Board over Beardsley's resistance extended from 2:00 to 
4:00 P.M. four days a week for boys who could not otherwise fit it 
into their course. So did certain other classes. 

As always, there was "a great amount of individual instruction. 
Last week, for example, there was an average attendance each after- 
noon of about 200 pupils. These students would be making up work, 
receiving individual aid from teachers, or using the library." A lunch- 
room was opened in the fall so that such pupils could attend the after- 
noon sessions more conveniently. 

Soon Beardsley was suggesting that teachers of first-year students 
turn in first-day assignments at the end of the school year for the suc- 
ceeding fall. The indefatigable Miss Lee would then mimeograph 
these assignments on slips to be distributed on the opening day of 
school to eliminate posting such assignments on the board. The "sug- 
gestion" of June, 1915, soon became standard practice with all class 
assignments listed on a sheet of paper that became two, three, and 
four as classes multij^lied. 

Under Beardsley's careful direction, such routines were firmly set. 
Indeed, his influence extended far into Mr. Bacon's subsequent ad- 
ministration, since Walter Barnum, trained under Beardsley, con- 
tinued as assistant principal under the new head and extended even 
further the firm pattern of school routine. He remained unable to 
preserve his own efficiency by turning certain jobs over to others. He 
personally presented salary checks to teachers, for instance, either 


Beardsley Becomes Principal 

making the rounds ot the classrooms, in which case classwork stopped 
as the teacher signed to indicate that she had indeed received her pay, 
or distributing them at faculty meetings. 

Those faculty meetings occurred so regularly at 4:00 p.m. Monday 
that when a young new teacher was sent to announce cancellation of 
one meeting, an old-timer hissed at him confidently, "You lie." No 
teacher discussion was permitted at these meetings. If a comment 
was made, Afr. Beardsley shut off the speaker with a firm, "If you want 
to talk, come to me in my office. This is my time to talk." 

He had a great deal to say about the duties of his staff. Punctuality 
was vital. So was careful preparation for every class. Homework 
should be assigned over holidays to avoid irresponsible work habits 
among the students. The conference periods with students after school 
were sacrosanct, two afternoons a week in the old building, three in 
the new. And woe to the teacher who decided no one needed help and 
went home early. Any appointment made with a student was to be 
kept. Proctoring at exams was to be vigilant; the teacher took respon- 
sibility for honesty, not the student. 

A special injunction was that teachers stand outside their classroom 
doors as classes passed. Like Boltwood, he believed in preventive dis- 
cipline. He himself always came out of his office to supervise class 
passing, standing there in his neat dark suit and plain tie, slightly 
hunched over and jerking absent-mindedly at his shirtcuff. Once the 
last bell had rung he expected absolute silence in the halls. 

In keeping with his personal paternalism, teachers never signed 
contracts. Instead, some time in May they received a personal letter 
inviting them to stay with the staff for another year and, when pos- 
sible, commending them for good work in the past school term. He 
was proud of the school's good record in keeping its teachers and 
spent much time searching out topnotch replacements for those who 
left. He frequently used a teachers agency no longer in existence. The 
man in charge of it traveled constantly to colleges where he inter- 
viewed candidates whose names he passed on to Beardsley. Beardsley 
then became "very persuasive." He bombarded one mathematics 
teacher happily ensconced in Wisconsin with three letters and a tele- 
gram. The letters pointed out Evanston's graduate study advantages 
and offered to pay the teacher's expenses if he would come to Evans- 
ton for an interview. Once here, the prospect was driven about town 
in the familiar Cadillac, with Beardsley pointing out the beauties 
of Evanston in such an irresistible way that the teacher capitulated. 

A teacher must learn to love Evanston after he was hired, for Mr. 
Beardsley was notably opposed to anyone's leaving the school for such 
fripperies as educational conferences. "What's the use of our spend- 
ing time away from our jobs when we know we're doing a better job 



here, anyhow?" he argued. Even a teacher actually appearing on a 
conference program might suffer a few anxious moments before jDer- 
mission to attend was granted. The principal himself thought out his 
own problems in his own way with occasional help from the profes- 
sional magazines that crossed his desk. 

He was not particularly open to direct suggestions, either. One 
chairman observed that Mr. Beardsley tended to support the pupil 
if the teacher was enraged and reverse his stance if the teacher urged 
leniency. Another believed that the "only way" he could be influ- 
enced was to plant suggestions carefully with the question, "Didn't I 
hear you talking about such and such an idea?" Beardsley would make 
no response at the time; two or three weeks later, if his mood were 
good, the teacher might "lead up to it again," and Beardsley would 
then pass judgment on what had now officially becoine his idea. 

His general educational philosophy was well understood. Students, 
faculty, and community recognized that Beardsley to the end of his 
administration thought of the school as college preparatory. Keeping 
up standards that Eastern colleges would respect was a serious busi- 
ness to the balding principal, and students who tried to ease by with 
less than their best work were soon called into his office. In this 
official capacity, he was "extremely serious . . . yet could pat you on 
the back as you left his office determined to do better." Each fresh- 
man class heard him quote a successful architect, Thomas Tallmadge, 
who in his alumni days declared, "The regret of my life is that I didn't 
study Greek at high school." And one of his favorite stories dealt 
with a boy scheduled to enter an Eastern preparatory school. The 
entrance officer noted his home address and advised the father, 
"You're from Evanston? Why send him away from home at a time 
in his life when he needs to stay with his parents, since he can get as 
good an education — maybe better — in his own town?" 

In the igso's when new educational philosophies were spreading, 
his rigid approach toward curriculum brought him in conflict with 
community groups. He was, for instance, opposed to any Parent- 
Teacher Association which presumed to offer suggestions about 
school policy. In 1910 he announced firmly to the teachers that they 
would doubtless be too busy putting on marks to attend the PTA 
meeting scheduled that evening. Two newcomers thereupon felt chal- 
lenged to attend the meeting, which proved a "hot one" with parents 
criticizing the high failure rate at the school and vowing to gain ac- 
cess to the school records at all costs. The upshot of that episode was 
that no PTA was again organized for several years until Beardsley 
obtained a promise that he could name its next president. 

Basically, Beardsley preferred the three-way conference between 
parent, j:)U])il, and jirincipal. He distrusted groups he could not con- 


Bcardslcy Becomes Principal 

trol. It followed then that he was averse to newsj^aper publicity of 
any kind. Very reluctantly he allowed Miss Eunice Cleveland to con- 
tribute a weekly column to the local newspaper; but he really believed 
that "If we're tloing a good job, the parents will know it." 

He was not totally intransigent, however. Once the despised com- 
mercial and manual training courses were forced upon him, he de- 
termined to make them as good as possible and sought the best 
teachers he could find in those fields. A teacher who spoke up vigor- 
ously in favor of institutes left the principal pacing up and down his 
office, muttering, "He is right. I should have gotten out and circu- 
lated more and found out more about other schools." As Mr. Beards- 
ley once said, "I don't like having around me a rubber ball you can 
punch and have the dent stay in." 

He might have made more changes if so much of his energy had 
not gone into obtaining a new school building — and if he had not 
so heartily concurred with the Board of Education member who 
retired in 1902 stating that Evanston schools "were not excelled in 
the entire country because of the general culture and intelligence of 
the j^eople and their homogeneity." 

Before turning to that story, his jjersonal biography can here be 
completed. In 1925, he suffered a slight stroke that affected his speech 
and then a more serious one that made the doctor warn him he must 
quit work. He did nothing of the kind, of course, but his tenacious 
devotion to work was catching up with him. Illness kej^t him from a 
commencement in 1925, and his friends took advantage of his absence 
to name the just completed gymnasium after him. Faculty members 
there in 1927 remember a meeting at which he apparently suffered a 
minor stroke: 

He leaned his head on his hand, unable to speak. No one said a word. 
We sensed that he was near the end. It was tragic. Another time a 
teacher who went to his office found him with tongue thick and speech 
difficult. But he insisted on talking about a special new grass being 
planted between the two main walks, the janitors doing it I)y hand. 

With typical reticence, he refused to talk about his illness. On No- 
vember 27, 1927, Radfoid Stearns, who served as chauffeur for him, 
remembers being ordered to drive Beardsley to the University Club, 
the principal's home for many years. Beardsley told him to wait, 
entered the Club, and returned with a small bag in his hands, and 
asked to be driven to the hosjiital. It was the first indication he had 
given of his condition. By January 25, 1928, Beardsley was on his way 
to California to join his semi-invalid sister, Alice. Mr. Walter Barnum 
became acting principal. That July 2, the Board, in a special order, 
named Beardsley principal-emeritus with a half salary of $5,000. The 



next month, word was received of his marriage to Rutheda Hunt, for 
many years a teacher of typing and shorthand at the high school. And 
on February 26, 1931, he died in San Diego, California. A memorial 
service in the new library he had planned as the "beauty spot of the 
school" evoked tributes to his "vision and planning and tenacious 
purpose . . . his alert mind . . . his accuracy and exactness." With his 
relentless attention to detail (Notes in his handwriting still in the 
school files show that he spent summers checking teachers' classrooms 
to determine if they had sufficient blackboard space.), he personally 
selected hardware for the new school building at a little store on 
Wesley Avenue. He never really allowed himself to relax. His death 
at the age of 59 was surely the direct result of his devotion to the 
school tfiat had become the center of his life. About twenty faculty 
members and faculty wives attended the burial service at Ripon, 
Wisconsin, when Mr. Beardsley's ashes were placed beside the graves 
of his parents. The service was conducted by the Reverend Hugh 
Elmer Brown, minister of the First Congregational Church, of which 
Mr. Beardsley was a member, and the Reverend Arthur (?) Rogers 
(father of Arthur Rogers of St. Marks Episcopal Church), who were 
devoted friends of Mr. Beardsley. 


Ch after V 
Expansion Under Beardsley 

Beards LEY had been principal only five years when he 
took up with the Board a fundamental problem: the need of more 
space. The need was so clear cut and the community had hitherto 
been so receptive to school bond issues that he could not possibly 
have anticipated that it would be ten years before a new building 
would go up. The location on Dempster Street was proving more and 
more unsuitable. Trains went by at a rate the earlier builders had 
never anticipated in days when the whole town set its clock by the 
5:26. They were noisy, and they blew soot into the air. A laundry had 
gone up on the once open block, and its chimney puffed out smoke 
that seemed to "suffocate us when the wind was from the east; venti- 
lator fans seemed to draw all smoke and odors in." 

No particular provision had been made for expansion, either. The 
school lot, which occupied only a quarter of the block, was already 
filled, with the building going straight out to the sidewalks. In 191 1 
Beardsley had reported that the building was "comfortable" for 24 
teachers, a principal, and 600 pupils; there were already 26 teachers 
and 650 pupils. By 1912, there were 30 teachers and 700 pupils. Classes 
were kept relatively small — -for every 100 new pupils (and there was a 
ten per cent increase in enrollment every year for some time) he hired 
five new teachers. 

Every device was used to pinch out an inch more space. The large 
old classrooms were partitioned off in ingenious fashions. To provide 
light, it was sometimes necessary to create wedge-shaped rooms. Some- 
times students entered one classroom by way of another. The peripa- 
tetic teacher with no room of his own, moving all day from study 
room to study room to meet his classes, became a common sight. The 
room once reserved for showing lantern slides, hearing lectures, and 
giving examinations, was transformed into a classroom. For years, the 
school was never able to get together in one room. Of course, no gym- 
nasium existed; even toilet facilities were reported inadequate. 

Beardsley ordered the architectural firm of Holabird and Roche to 
draw up floor plans for an addition. The principal planned to buy 
another 25 feet of land to the south and extend the building to pro- 
vide more room for classrooms, an assembly room with a stage, a gym 
for both boys and girls, a larger lunchroom, and a domestic science 


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Expansion Under Beardsley 

laboratory. The addition woidd enable the school to care for 1,000 
to 1,200 students. 

On October 12, 1912, Evanstonians went to the polls to vote on the 
$250,000 bond issue to purchase the ground and erect the addition. 
The projjosition was defeated by a rather close margin, 112 to 89. 
Undeterred, the Board scheduled another election for November 15, 
1913; by this time, 740 pupils were jammed into quarters suitable for 
600. In the 1913 proposal, the remainder of the vast half of the block, 
as far as Grain Street, was sought for purchase. Again the proposal 
was defeated, with 1,443 against and 957 for it. Sadly enough, the 
ladies were said to have played a key role in this second defeat. It 
was the first time they had been entitled to vote, and they had their 
hearts set on a school out of the "noisy business district." The Record- 
Herald asserted that the women, who cast more than half the votes, 
"hired carriages and drove their automobiles about the streets of 
Evanston, bringing voters to the polls while the men, having cast 
their ballots, went to Chicago for their regular work." 

Ominous foreshadowings also appeared in the comments of other 
opposing groups that a much more expensive high school would be 
required to serve the community properly — or that two high schools 
were needed, one for the north and one for the south side of Evanston. 
In a speech of 1919 — many unsuccessful battles later — Beardsley sum- 
marized it with tart humor, recalling that many consoled him with the 
thought that the school deserved a better, larger, and quieter site, 
anyhow. "It was pleasant to have their sympathy, and yet we were 
no better off so far as room was concerned." 

He certainly had a point. The coal bin had already been removed 
from the basement and the coal piled outside the grounds near the 
heating plant; into the bin space went the commercial department. 
However, he did not settle for regretful philosophy. In preparation 
for a third effort, he suggested to the Board that an expert from the 
U.S. Office of Education, a Fletcher B. Dressier, be invited to make 
a week's study of the new building jjroblem. He had already begun to 
recommend at well-attended mass meetings that both a new building 
and a new site were needed. By February 9, 1915, with the expert's 
report in, the Board was ready to announce its choice for the new 
location. At a meeting attended by about 100 in the First Congrega- 
tional Church, the choice was described: a site at Greenwood and 
Ashland that ran south to Dempster and east and west to Dewey and 
Darrow. It would cost $100,000 for eleven and one-half acres plus a 
building estimated at $575,000. The site was not a popular choice 
with everyone. A group immediately began to press a fifteen-acre site 
at Lincoln and Ridge. The News-Index took advantage of the excite- 
ment to oj^en its columns to all citizens to express opinions. Just about 



everyone had an opinion. The school was being put in "the back yard 
of Evanston," a man objected in a complaint that was to become very 
familiar. A "more romantic site" would be better, thought a wistful 
woman. Students would have to walk much too far, since there was no 
proper transportation. 

The Board invited other suggestions for sites and wound up with 
four proposals, including a parcel of land near Calvary Cemetery. 
Meanwhile, Dwight Perkins, the architect who would build the school 
if matters ever got that far, showed slides of other schools, followed by 
his sketches of a new ETHS, at meetings all over town. Mr. Beardsley 
usually followed with a carefully prepared explanation of the worth 
of the site. Brochures published and mailed by the school indicated 
architectural "schemes" for each of the sites and reminded readers 
rather plaintively of steadily increasing enrollment. 

Observing the mass meetings of other organizations to press for 
their sites, the Board wisely decided to separate the proposals, asking 
the public to vote first on a bond issue for a school, later for a site. 
A systematic canvass of voters was begun, ward by ward, with teachers 
treading the sidewalks. Editorials, letters from irate citizens, and ad- 
vertisements that exploded into doublespreads appeared as the elec- 
tion date neared. No wonder the vote on November 6, 1915, was the 
largest ever cast at a school election, a total of 4,129, with the proposal 
for a new building carrying by a handy 1,000 votes. 

Then the question of the site moved into the spotlight. The North 
Siders, intent on the Lincoln-Ridge spot, began advertising in the 
newspapers at once. Mass meetings were scheduled, thousands of 
throwaways littered the streets to combat the bitter cry of South Siders 
that the Lincoln-Ridge site "will mean that the high school will be for 
one section of the city and not for all Evanston. Come out and insure 
a square deal to the high school students of the future." A particular 
sore point with South Siders was that their children would have to 
pay §20 a year carfare to reach the north site. The other side retorted 
that the "back yard of Evanston" site would involve condemning 
many homes with "resultant court proceedings and untold expenses." 
Why pay three times as much for a smaller property? Why destroy 41 
houses valued at $150,000? Why spend money for lawsuits? The issue 
was joined. "Which shall it be," snarled the South Siders, "a central 
site for all Evanston or an exclusive site for the North End?" 

Election day finally arrived, December 1 1. Supper was being served 
that night at the high school to all election officers as they tallied 
the men's votes, the women's votes, the ballots of varying colors and 
prints — for several types were being accepted. The results were close, 
very close: The Ridge site passed by 23 votes. With a total balloting 
of 5,758, again a record in a school election, demands for recounts 


Expansi())i Under Bcardslcy 

were inevitable. The law began to move with characteristic slowness, 
the circuit court judge finally certifying on April 27, 1916, that the 
Ridge site won by 14 votes. The Board, which had already moved 
ahead with an option to buy the site at .P5,ooo, may have been re- 
lieved. If so, the relief was brief, for the vote was next appealed to 
the Illinois Supreme Court, which moved in leisurely style to rule on 
April 21, 1917, that it had no jurisdiction over the case which should 
go to the appellate court. 

World War I was ended before the ding-dong battle ended. Luckily 
wartime difficulties in obtaining materials to build reduced the pres- 
sure; Mr. Beardsley settled down to squeezing two classrooms out of 
the space one had taken before and waited for the legal tug-of-war to 
end. On December 24, 1917, the appellate court bounced (the official 
term is remanded) the case back to the circuit court, claiming lack of 
jurisdiction. April 17, 1918, the Supreme Court of Illinois granted a 
writ of certiorari, which meant in efltect that this court would, after 
all, review the appellate court decisions. In the fall of 1918 on October 
24, the Supreme Court volleyed the site case back to the appellate 
court, instructing that court to ignore the jurisdictional aspect, pass 
on the issues, and send the case up. 

And, finally, in April, 1919, the Illinois Supreme Court decided 
that the site election was virtually null and void. The bond elections, 
it appeared, were illegal on three different grounds: notice of the 
elections was insufficient, as the propositions were not separately 
stated; the election authorizing issuance of bonds to buy the new 
site when it was selected did not authorize purchase of a new site when 
selected; and no preliminary petition of voters had preceded the elec- 
tion. However, residents of Niles and New Trier townships who lived 
within the city of Evanston were entitled to vote. The Court also up- 
held the Board's contention that the school need not be at the center 
of the school district. Any site could be legally named, provided a ma- 
jority voted for it. 

Beardsley commented wryly, "We have served the same period that 
Jacob served, the only difference being that Jacob got his reward and 
we have not thus far." 

The students, real victims of the dispute, certainly had not. Back 
in the fall of 1915, there were 851 of them, and the "school had en- 
tirely outgrown our youthful garments, even though the next suit was 
not yet ready for us." Beardsley was driven to renting outside build- 
ings. Offices on Greenwood Avenue, where the Art Center is now 
located, were pressed into use. To this little annex was added the 
Haven Annex, a former grade school building on the corner of Sher- 
man Avenue and Church Street. After extensive repairs in 1915-16, 
the building housed the Commercial Department and eventually the 



mid-year freshman class. The nearby Domestic Science School was 
being used partly for a gymnasium and partly for classrooms. A rifle 
range was set up in "a small shop across the way." The basement of 
the school, minus coal bin, was filled with a lunchroom and three re- 
citation rooms replacing what had been the girls' bicycle room. (Part 
of the space for the boys' bicycles went to the mechanical drawing 
room.) The janitors' room became another drawing room. The var- 
nishing and finishing room which had been used in the manual train- 
ing course was converted into two classrooms. A storeroom became 
an art center. Even the long basement corridors served a double func- 
tion, becoming an extension of the lunchroom. 

Large home rooms became impossible. A partition was knocked out 
on the southeast corner of the first floor and a room reserved for sen- 
iors alone; more were staying in school to graduate now and they 
needed the space. Miss Grace Cooley became their primary adviser; 
her combination of New England background and Irish ancestry 
fitted her for a job which demanded a mixture of "strength, keen 
wit . . . and affection." 

In the three and one-half year legally-enforced interim, Beardsley 
had uncovered some significant facts. Nationally, "a greatly increased 
sentiment in favor of high school attendance" was being noted. More 
than 60 to 65 per cent of the grade school population now went on to 
high school in Evanston. The town itself was growing in population. 
Evanston Academy had been discontinued, and its pupils were turn- 
ing to ETHS. A dip in enrollment in 1903 caused by the departure 
of New Trier students for their new building lasted until 1907, 
Beardsley pointed out. Since then a steady growth had gone on, with 
enrollment doubling in the years between 1911 and 1919. 

And educational standards were changing. A high school was ex- 
pected to provide extensive grounds for athletic fields and for gar- 
dening projects. He realized that the Lincoln Ridge site was now in- 
adequate. The one he had hit upon in his survey of the town was 
even less popular; on the west side of town at Church and Dodge, it 
pleased practically no one except Beardsley who saw in the 55 acres 
available a site that would always have room enough. (He can hardly 
be blamed for showing symptoms of administrative claustrophobia.) 

He looked forward "with dread" to the "thought of a long drawn- 
out and more or less unpleasant struggle," but added, "it seems to be 
what Evanston prefers." 

His method of campaign was characteristic. He quoted with ap- 
proval a man who believed no election should be called until "we 
have so thoroughly canvassed the town and counted noses that we 
know about where we stand." From the beginning he was convinced 
that "not half as much good is done in public meetings as is done by 


Expansion Under Beardsley 

faithful personal work — one man in one part of town, another in 
another. . . ." 

He employed every possible "personal" resource of this kind. Men 
who had worked in precincts during the earlier elections were again 
drafted. His personal friends at the University Club would "bear 
a hand whenever needed." An Edward Clifford, who had formerly 
been on District 75's Board of Education, brought his son in to enter 
ETHS and to meet Mr. Beardsley, who wrote Chancellor Jenks, presi- 
dent of the Board of Education, immediately, "He looks like a good 
worker." Teachers were sent out to interview potential voters. 

But, of course, he depended mainly upon himself. He had a model 
and maps ready by September 11, 1919, and promised to deliver them 
personally to a South End meeting on the site. He warned Jenks to 
squelch the proposal of a C. T. Bartlett to enlarge the present school 
site. He attended a North End meeting at which he found "the cry 
of no transportation . . . effective on the other side." This objection 
recurred throughout the campaign; Beardsley observed that when 
the present school was enlarged people were positive that the addi- 
tion's nearness to the train would make work impossible. Although 
trains were an inconvenience, classes had managed to proceed. "Did 
my saying so at the time of the election do any good? Not the slight- 
est." However, he tried various responses to the transportation com- 
plaints. When an interview with the owner of the street railway and 
its local manager failed to materialize, he concluded soundly enough, 
"Transportation is bound to follow a venture of this sort. (It is) not 
absolutely essential to have a guarantee before hand that children can 
be taken from their own doors and landed at the front door of the 
high school. What is there so unhealthful about walking a few blocks? 
I do it and should hate to be deprived of it. I should have hated much 
more to be deprived of it when I was of high school age." 

For once, he encouraged large meetings with parents, spending an 
evening in June, 1919, talking "site right through the evening," with 
two or three hundred fathers and mothers. His prediction was an ac- 
curate one: ". . . neither this site nor- any other is going to be selected 
without much organized work on its behalf. Evanston is not a place 
where there is much unity of action." He attributed the dis-unity 
to the fact that so many men worked in Chicago and were slow to 
take "vital interest in matters at home. He noted early rumbles at this 
meeting which indicated that the North Siders were again ready to 
take to the warpath and that the South wanted a building of its own. 

His favorite method was probably the personally conducted tour of 
his beloved site. He once wrote that ". . . unless we can see that a 
large nimiber of voters are given a personally conducted trip to the 
site, we are never to win this election." He certainly did his best to 

•61 • 


achieve that goal. In July, 1919, he had made nearly 100 trips to the 
site in his car and found it "easily accessible." Each time he went, he 
tried to take with him a voting citizen. No one was safe. He habitually 
had Sunday dinner with Mayor Pearsons and his wife. Before they 
quite knew what had happened on one Sunday late in June, he had 
driven them out to the site: 

(they) showed no special interest . . . (but) I went through my usual 
program, taking them around the property, pointing out where the 
building could be placed and where the athletic field would be, and 
then took them up on the Northwestern embankment and showed 
them how close the thickly populated part of the town really was to 
the new site. 

They were, of course, converted. Beardsley sincerely believed that 
"twenty-five years from now all Evanston will be grateful if this thing 
can be done. . . ." 

He bombarded Jenks with ammunition for a speech in favor of the 
site which Evanstonians considered as completely out in the country 
and knew to be somewhat populated by Negroes. Jenks, he wrote, 
should emphasize the "enormous growth" of the American high 
school in the last generation which "covers roughly the 36 years since 
our Township High School was organized." He cited figures for Illi- 
nois showing that in 1905 only 52,394 pupils had been enrolled in 
high school; in 1916 the total was 102,870, an increase of 96 per cent. 
(Elementary schools in the same period had gone up only slightly 
under five per cent.) All students were now encouraged to remain at 
ETHS as long as possible even if they didn't graduate; 80 per cent 
of all grammar school graduates currently attempted the high school 

The situation at the high school he reviewed graphically: girls 
traveled to another building for physical education; a military bat- 
talion organized two years before drilled in the main corridor of the 
school building for lack of better space, while teachers and pupils in 
adjoining rooms "found their voices drowned by the ringing tones of 
our drill master." Domestic science could not be added to the curri- 
culum until room was found for it. A 50-foot rifle range was housed 
in a "ramshackle building across the street." Only the cooperation 
of the YMCA and Northwestern made possible any physical education 
and sports program for boys. The girls now had to do without. 

With the clearing away of the legal obstacles to a new site election 
and the setting of October 11, 1919, for the voting, Evanston readied 
itself for a final tussle. The opposition to Beardsley's site choice 
opened fire with a two-page ad urging boys and girls to walk to the 
site and then tell their parents how to vote. Responded the School 


Expansion Under Bcardsley 

Board, "Let's be fair to all of Evanston. Walk to both of them — then 
decide." The low price of the new site and its ample acreage were 
prominently described. But the North End died hard. A letter to the 
News-Index sniped slyly at Beardsley's favorite campaign method: 
"We should not decide . . . after a delightful motor ride to the various 
sites on a beautifid autumn day. . . ." The tone of such letters grew 
increasingly heated as the election date drew near. "One winter will 
prove it's a Siberia," warned a writer who decried the "foolhardy se- 
lection of the 55-acre 'central' site — for rabbits." Even defenders of 
the site admitted that the west side at present had only "its onion 
patches and its future." However, they had counter arguments. One 
went: "We shall square out Evanston and then the high school will 
be in the geographical center of the city." This proponent circulated 
a petition among the residents of the area between Howard and Simp- 
son Streets and Crawford Avenue and the canal. Nineteen, practically 
all of the property owners, signed the petition to be annexed to Evans- 
ton. Had that been done the city would have been 'squared out.' But 
as the slogan had already served its purpose in getting votes, Mr. 
Beardsley did not complain when his friend Mayor Pearsons listened 
to the appeal of at least one of the council members and certain real 
estate speculators in Niles Center (now Skokie) and the petition was 
tabled. The suggestion was made that that area could be added to 
District 202 and that Evanston could not furnish water to so large a 
territory. At the final count, the 9,010 vote showed 7,950 in favor of 
the bond issue. "A cheer rose in the old high school building shortly 
after 9:00 p.m. when the men in charge of the ballots came out from 
the inner office and announced the results of the vote . . . (to) 50 per- 
sons . . . patiently waiting in the outer office for nearly an hour." 

"You are vindicated," people told Mr. Beardsley, or, more doubt- 
fully, "Well, I hope it's settled now." 

The News-Index wondered if the one-third opposed to the site 
would acquiesce but concluded that "most of the citizens of Evanston 
are today hoping that the school fight has come to its end. It has been 
waged for three or four months. The city became divided into bitter 
factions . . . feelings became so intense that harsh things were said 
and enmities created." 

Beardsley took no chances of losing the site this time. He had man- 
aged school finances so economically in recent years that the Board 
had on hand the money to pay for the site. The purchase was put 
through quickly, and then Beardsley was ready to settle down to what 
became a two-year campaign for the money to put a building on the 
land. Officially, the Board of Education explained its pause as a wait 
either for construction costs to drop back to normal or for its taxing 
powers to be enlarged. 



Meanwhile, the teachers were again called into action. An unoffi- 
cial committee divided up the town. One teacher who lived near the 
lake in an area thick with apartment houses — contemptuously called 
"flat dwellers" by those who felt only homeowners were likely to send 
children to the high school — took over that section and rang door- 
bells night after night to tell the story of the school's need. Another 
worked in a neighborhood of new homes where lived the parents of 
children who would soon benefit by the new building. And the teach- 
ers were careful to ask in the manner of all good precinct workers, 
"Do you have transportation to the polls? If you don't, would you like 
us to furnish you a cab so that you can go to vote that day?" 

In 1921, Beardsley decided the moment was right: 

I receive constant inquiries with regard to the bond elections, and I 
am fully convinced myself that we ought to have it about the middle 
of December . . . public interest in the matter is at as high a state now 
as it will ever be, and ... if we postpone the matter some of our strong 
supporters who are eager for action now will be apt to feel that we are 

The date was set for December 17, and he wrote a letter on Novem- 
ber 25 to William Dunham that showed plainly the toll the long fight 
had taken: 

If the bonds are defeated I do not know what will become of us. I am 
far from being a pessimist, but perhaps you will recall that it is ten 
years this fall, while you were a member of our School Board, that we 
took up the consideration of additional quarters for our work. Per- 
haps, too, you will remember that it will be nine years next fall since 
we had our first election and our first defeat in this cause. ... It would 
be easy to draw the conclusion that, since we won on the site election 
we would be assured of a majority on the bond election, but that con- 
clusion cannot be correctly drawn at all. We are told, I presume 
correctly, that forty per cent of the citizens are ordinarily against 
any bond issue. 

However, the town's mood had begun to change. The Chamber 
of Commerce, the Kiwanis Club, the Rotarians, and even the fence- 
sitting Neios-Index declared in favor of the Board-approved site. Ads 
indulging in diatribes against annexation of "that vast stretch of deso- 
late prairie and bog-land lying to the west of our city beyond the 
drainage canal near hundreds of inhabitants . . . who do not even 
speak the English language" seemed more demagogic than impressive 
compared to the school statement: "We have waited for weary years. 
We have our site. Let us now have our high school." 

Election day blew in on a cold, snowy wind. The air was damp, but 
teachers were posted on all the corners leading to "L" stations early 


Expansion Under licardsley 

in the morning and late in the afternoon. They advanced on com- 
muters headed for Chicago with the query, "Have you voted yet?" 

When the votes were counted, the results showed another victory; 
out of 5,150 votes cast, 4,097 were in favor, with only 957 against and 
96 not voting correctly. Teachers, tired from their turns on the chill 
corners but "very elated," began to pour into the old building where 
Mr. Beardsley beamed with pleasure. 

The next step was one Beardsley enjoyed thoroughly. For five 
years he had worked with the Board on a set of plans that would pro- 
vide a high school immediately capable of serving 2,250 students and 
capable of future expansion to serve a total as large as 4,500. He had 
no intention of letting the architects intervene at this point with 
"some plan . . . (for) a group of buildings located around a quadrangle 
in the manner suggested by a small college." 

Chancellor Jenks turned over the first shovelful of dirt for the 
new building at 5:00 p.m., Friday, January 2, 1923, and summer 
school opened the new structure in 1924, although the building was 
far from completed. Lockers were still being installed with electric 
drills in the main corridors. Even the fall term found construction 
still under way. Teachers recall that the heating plant was not in 
operation, and a cold snap made the rooms so chilly that writing pro- 
gram cards became an endurance contest. When their fingers became 
too frozen to write, they were sent out to the fireplace opposite the 
main office where fires had been built. There they would munch 
crackers and cheese served with welcome hot coffee until they were 
able to return to writing program cards. 

Students were more pleased than not with the situation. They 
could learn the principle of rigidity of triangle by examining the 
framework of the gymnasium going up outside their mathematics 
teacher's window. They could learn from dreamy contemplation of 
quadrilateral triangles to watch a narrow-gauge railroad car chugging 
its way around the front of the building with needed materials. And 
on the way home there was always the possibility of an interesting 
encounter with one of the dozens of little garter snakes or toads un- 
covered when the swamp-like campus was drained. Everything was 
an adventure that year. Even getting a meal in the new cafeteria the 
first day had unexpected results. The lunchroom was in a Quonset 
hut bought after World War I from Fort Sheridan and set up in the 
back. If the day was cold, you wore a coat and hat to the cafeteria. 
That first day, though, the serving set-up was poorly organized, and 
students couldn't finish in time for class. The bells were held . . . and 
a new system inaugurated the next day. 

The main building of tapestry brick trimmed with terra cotta was 
three stories high with two towers of 60 feet each standing to the right 



and left of the main office section in its center. A first-floor corridor 
to the right of one tower led to homeroom 124 and its five facing 
classrooms; the one to the left led to homeroom 104. The library, 
nestled between the two towers on the second floor, represented a 
conscious effort by Beardsley to recreate the Renaissance style. Be- 
tween 104 and 124 corridors was a third corridor which extended out 
from the main office toward the parking lot at the rear. To the north 
of the main building the gymnasium was going up. Measuring 120 
by 220 feet, it was then one of the largest of its kind for high school 
students. To the south was the powerhouse, connected to the school 
by an 800-foot tunnel and reputedly "the last word in mechanical 
equipment." Behind the school at the south was the large frame struc- 
ture which served as cafeteria and manual training center. Near it 
was the fieldhouse and to the north the little white house used by the 
girls to dress for gym. Behind and to the west stretched the athletic 

Every detail of the building had been considered lovingly by 
Beardsley — the "recreation center" around the fireplaces facing the 
administrative offices, the music room with its amphitheater effect 
tucked cozily between the two towers, even the 2,000 steel lockers. 
He had seen to it that the large homeroom system was built into the 
new ETHS; the more he read of the Detroit house system which these 
"little schools" resembled, the happier he was that Evanston's single 
assembly room had insensibly evolved into several. He envisioned an 
expansible plan with the all-important classrooms going in first and 
plenty of time to add such frills as the auditorium, the natatorium, 
and perhaps even auto shops. 

It was his creation. He was said to come over Sundays and sprinkle 
the grass in one section. The story is probably apocryphal, but it is 
believed by those who knew his devotion to the school. Two fat scrap- 
books are pasted full of photographs showing every detail of the con- 
struction; the first shovelful of dirt turned over, the wagons and 
teams struggling to remove dirt frozen just thick enough to hold up 
the labor but not thick enough to require blasting, the freshly-poured 
cement hastily packed with slough grass hay bought from a farmer so 
that it would not crack, the railway lines running directly in front of 
the school for the cars carrying supplies, a bale of straw being pulled 
in by a team of horses, the great steel trusses going in place for the 
gym, the laying of the cement sidewalks along Dodge, and finally the 
figures of students briskly walking down those sidewalks toward the 
new building on September 8, 1924. Every so often the photographer 
caught Beardsley in one of the views, a trimly-dressed, handsome 
figure with the smile of a man who is watching a dream come true. 

He wasn't worrying about how to transport students to the new 


Expansion Under Beardsley 

location. They could walk, couldn't they? At any rate, the school 
would be large enough when the 1,600 finally arrived. Actually, it 
was to take several years for the problem to be solved. The realty 
board opposed building a car line out west. By 1925, students were 
pooling allowance money to hire taxis to take them to school or driv- 
ing their own cars or jamming, 65 strong, on one bus. In desperation 
the Board accepted a suggestion for a split schedule with the mid- 
year graduating class from Boltwood School (as the former high 
school had been named; it was to burn two years later). Most students 
came at 8:30; the midyear graduates arrived at 9:15. For the second 
group, the school lasted past the usual 2:45 to 3:30, but the buses 
were still inadequate. In July the Board decided that all freshmen 
were to come three-quarters of an hour later. By the following De- 
cember, enough new buses had been added to cope with the situation. 


Chapter VI 
Evanston and ETHS Grow and Change 

In the meantime, other changes were taking place in 
Evanston. Back in 1908, two years after Beardsley formally took over 
as principal, horse-and-buggy outfits were still tied up around the 
square. The original city hall with its old-fashioned gables was at the 
corner of Sherman and Davis. Livery stables abounded, but movies 
were beginning to come in with "Little Mary" Pickford a prime 
favorite. A miniature park stood on Church Street near Sherman 
and Orrington. The library was yet to be built. The post office was 
located at another corner of Sherman and Davis. The high school 
population was just under 500, and when it rose to 750, Beardsley 
announced at a faculty meeting that no school should have over 1,000 
students. New teachers could be had for $900 a year; it was rumored 
that one veteran received all of $1,500. Proper deportment was ex- 
tremely important. A woman teacher who perched on one of the deep 
window sills was reprimanded immediately for her lack of dignity, 
and no matter how hot the day the men couldn't take off their coats. 
Teachers never used their first names to each other when pupils might 
notice, and Mr. Beardsley really preferred to hear students called 
"Mister" and "Miss" in the dignity of the classroom. 

Conveniences that high schools of today take for granted were kept 
on an equally simple basis at ETHS in 1908. The session still ran 
until 1:00 P.M. when most of the students went home. In a fifteen- 
minute break at 11:30 teachers hurried out to the hall to sell round 
hamburger sandwiches at a nickel each. A few classes had to be offered 
in the afternoon or omitted entirely — the commercial course, for ex- 
ample. This meant that students stayed at school for lunch. A hot 
plate was installed in the baSement where teachers made "dreadful" 
cocoa, and youngsters brought their own lunches to supplement this 
fare. By 1914 a lunchroom had been established to serve daily "a suit- 
able hot lunch ... at cafeteria prices." When the noted Avenue House 
closed, Beardsley succeeded in buying out its old-fashioned walnut 
dining-room tables for this basement lunchroom. They were the same 
ones later moved into the temporary structure at the new building. 

For many years health services to students were just as rudimen- 
tary. A teacher who arrived in 1908 was surprised to find women 
teachers assigned to what were then delicately known as "dressing 
rooms." They were to stay on duty in case a girl became ill and had 


Evanston and ETHS Groxo and Change 

to lie down; if the youngster required a hot water bottle or a head- 
ache tablet, the teacher on duty for the day provided it. This practice 
persisted even in the new building where the third-floor teachers' 
room was "sick bay" for girl students. Some criticism of the absence 
of health inspections of any kind was heard as early as 1910 when the 
minutes of the High School Section of the Parent-Teacher Association 
quoted a Dr. Boot, who reminded disturbed parents that Evanston 
had no health inspection in its school. Though doctors had tried to 
begin one several years before, it was as a rule done only if a con- 
tagious disease had already started in a school. There were no dental 
inspections, either. Familiar complaints were heard. "The children 
are working too hard," was one; and "I have often said," sighed a 
mother, "that Miss Cooley's work is freshman college English." 

The PTA had ventured to make some other suggestions to the 
Board of Education in July, 1910. The group cited a survey which 
had asked eighth-graders what courses they wanted to take in high 
school. Of the 198 responding, 152 intended to go on to high school. 
That number included only 54 interested in a classical course and 57 
in a general course. The rest wanted household economies (37), extra- 
technical (29), business (22), and clerical (19). Considering these 
results, the PTA recommended that a course in domestic science be 
inaugurated, that a woman be available "to whom the girls of the 
high school may freely go for counsel," and that a suitable physical 
director be employed. The gym classes were particularly desired, for 
a second letter urging morning classes for the girls and a better room 
with superior appliances for them. 

Such requests received short shrift from the Board. Experienced 
women teachers already guided the girls, the PTA was told. A domes- 
tic science course would have to be correlated with existing courses 
like chemistry and physiology, a procedure which would take time. 
No morning classes could possibly be provided for gym, but an effort 
would be made to improve the room. 

Behind this brusque response was Beardsley's attitude toward what 
he considered interference. The PTA had not been formed with his 
approval. It was an all-city organization with local divisions for each 
school, including the high school. That section outlined purposes 
that should have pleased him: members hope to work for "a new high 
school building ... as perfect as may be in every particular"; they 
recognized the "very high academic standard in our high school" and 
hoped to give instructors "every facility to maintain that standard." 
Perhaps the line in the original statement of purposes which Beards- 
ley found ominous was one which mentioned a desire for "introduc- 
tion of approved, though new, ideas and methods." 

With characteristic rigidity, he retained this attitude, in 1926 ap- 



proving a letter from older teachers which was sent to a town news- 
paper. They spoke for him when they wrote: 

an organized body of parents and teachers tends to become an . . . 
extra legal body of control . . . (which) initiates and frequently forces 
school policy for which it has to shoulder no responsibility. . . . Parent 
and teacher meetings should be frequent, perhaps more frequent and 
of a different character than we had had in the past, but we believe 
that a highly organized association is neither necessary nor desirable. 

In 1912, only two years after the PTA suggestions, another attack 
on the school's curriculum was made by Ellen E. Foster, principal of 
Foster School. In a letter addressed to Board Member George Mer- 
rick, she sent a marked course of study used by the Chicago high 
schools, showing that Latin was no longer compulsory, mathematics 
was optional until the third year, and students could wait until at- 
taining junior status before choosing between a science and a lan- 
guage-history course. 

She reasoned that the majority of drop-outs from school occurred 
in the first year and objected to the plan at ETHS requiring math 
in the first year. Until the student achieved a passing average in it, 
he could not receive sophomore standing. Latin she thought the "next 
biggest stumbling block." A boy who did not intend to go to college 
might well be permitted to substitute a modern language. She recom- 
mended the two-year commercial course Beardsley later attempted 
and added with some justice, "I think the pupil who is not able to 
go to college should be offered by his state an education not dictated 
by college requirements." 

Her advice stemmed from her experience with six Foster School 
graduates of igi 1 who entered high school. "Only two will reach the 
second year, although all of them are industrious pupils." Four grad- 
uates who did not go to ETHS were in a business college instead. 

It has already been noted that the Board in 1912 insisted that a 
commercial course must be added at the high school. Accepting this 
instruction, Beardsley had visited principals of two neighboring 
schools and talked with others interested in the field. His research led 
him to suggest both a four-year course with one-fourth to one-half of 
the work in commercial studies and the rest in the regular studies of 
the high school, and a two-year business course, planned entirely as 
vocational, to serve those who could not stay in high school the full 
four years. By reminding the Board that business colleges were send- 
ing representatives into the homes of eighth-graders to talk them into 
eight-month courses at $1 1.00 a month, he justified the two-year pro- 
vision. The course, first instituted on an experimental basis, remained 
in the curriculum. 


Evanston and ETHS Groio and Change 

An article of 1913 in the Christian Science Monitor, obviously the 
outgrowth of an interview with Beardsley, used as evidences of a 
"broadening curriculum" only examples dating back almost entirely 
to the Boltwood period. Manual training, mechanical drawing, ath- 
letics (under J. W. Bixby of the YMCA), all were the work of the first 
principal. Aside from commercial work, the only two new courses 
originating under Beardsley were girls' physical education and musi- 
cal instruction, and the second of these is dubious, for even the Vil- 
lage School had its music. However, a choral class had been formed in 
1908 "to meet two afternoons a week under the charge of a competent 
instructor, and a class in harmony was being planned." But both of 
these classes had been pushed by the community to such an extent 
that it is difficult to determine how much Beardsley had to do with 
their introduction. 

After 1910 parent dissatisfaction with the curriculum continued 
to grow. In 1918, for example, the Lake Shore Neighborhood Club 
met to discuss the school program. In a letter to the News-Index pub- 
lished February 2, a person who attended the session declared himself 
"impressed that our high school is already doing excellent work in 
several respects but that this work is accompanied by an assumption 
altogether too smug that it is in the front line of high schools whereas 
. . . the writer has been compelled to reluctantly suspect that our high 
school has a considerable journey to make." 

At the meeting Mr. Beardsley read a paper listing the courses then 
offered and quoting statistics intended to prove the strength of the 
old classical subjects. Continued the letter writer, "Are the teaching 
staff and administrative staff actually identified with high school con- 
ferences and actually getting into the most up-to-date high schools of 
our time?" A subsidiary question challenged hiring teachers who had 
no knowledge of "pedagogy" but only of their subjects. By February 
21, the club was ready to adopt a resolution favoring "courses so 
elastic that a pupil . . . could easily change. . . ." 

A voice becoming unhappily familiar to Mr. Beardsley at such 
meetings was that of R. K. Row, a textbook publisher. He next ap- 
pears on the educational committee of the high school PTA, and his 
attitude is reflected in the paragraph of its annual report, opening: 

We do not think it presumptuous for groups of parents to offer sug- 
gestions for the consideration of educational experts in charge of the 
school ... we recognize that to hold its place among the best the school 
must continually readjust itself to changing conditions. 

The committee then recommended four full years of English; com- 
pulsory physical education; domestic science for girls; a freshman 
vocational guidance course; a two-session day; no requirement of 



foreign languages; surveys of failures and dropouts to determine 
causes. The two-session day was promptly voted down, but on March 
20, 1919, Row was back again fighting the Latin and Greek require- 
ments in what must have been the meeting the two new male teachers 
attended and found "hot." 

The most widely-publicized attack was a group of articles in 1926, 
published by John A. Kappelman, an Evanston citizen, in the Evans- 
ton News-Index. Called a "critical analysis of the curriculum of ETHS 
after a year's investigation," the series was said to be supported be- 
hind the scenes by a Northwestern professor. After commending the 
"very high grade of classical work done," Kappelman turned to the 
number of dropouts. Three-fourths of the entering freshmen did not 
graduate in four years; other high schools of the same type managed 
to graduate 50 to 81 per cent of their freshmen. Kappelman listed the 
causes: 14 per cent, family moved out of town; 16 per cent, entered 
private schools; 36 per cent, went to work; and 18 per cent, no reason 

He himself advanced the theory that the school overstressed clas- 
sics despite the obvious fact that "the town has changed." He recom- 
mended more vocational education, educational guidance on a com- 
prehensive scale, establishment of a PTA (the rather feeble organi- 
zation then in existence he refused to consider one), maintenance of 
a bureau of research to maintain and analyze "current data from 
which to deduce value of courses," and reorganization of the curric- 

In a sharply worded section, Kappelman declared: 

A more modern system needs to be considered. What have we now? 
Ten courses of study providing four years of work. The first eight 
appear about the same with variations of arrangement and elective 
choices all intended to prepare for college. They emphasize the lan- 
guages . . . what seems to appear as a rich course offering in curricula 
in print is nothing more than printing eight combinations of one 
course— namely the academic course whose object is to prepare one for 
college. . . . The ninth course is the commercial . . . several years ago 
. . . reluctantly added . . . finally put into the catalog after a sharp 
altercation, I understand. The tenth is the so-called Manual Training 
. . . two years of manual training and mechanical drawing supple- 
menting other classical courses . . . the nearest approach to vocational 
education. . . . This is a plea for those children whose abilities do not 
lie along the line of the classics. . . . The aim of the modern school is to 
help the child discover and develop his individual ability instead of 
requiring him to attempt to adjust himself to strictly scholastic courses. 

Official response promptly stated that the drop-out rate was incor- 
rectly presented, for actually 77 per cent of all students succeeded in 



Evanston and ETHS Groxv and Change 

their work — the 38 per cent who graduated and the 39 per cent who 
left school. This latter group was doing passing work at the time of 
leaving school, the teachers retorted. The figures do not quite jibe, 
but the final paragraph of the letter exemplifies the attitude of the 
dominant group at ETHS in 1927 well enough to make further in- 
vestigation of the statistical data unnecessary: 

Shall diplomas be handed out to anyone who attends school for four 
years, or to any boy or girl whose parents bring pressure to bear upon 
the teachers or school authorities, or shall a diploma represent satis- 
factory mastery of a high school course of study? 

To the other criticisms, the general rebuttal was that Kappel- 
man was misusing facts and figures provided him by the school. (Mr. 
Edward Ladd, who worked on the News-Index at the time, recalls 
Kappelman as "critical, impractical, outspoken, and not completely 
accurate.") There was no evidence, the Board insisted, that a home 
economics course was wanted; demand for vocational courses was 
equally small, and installation of such equipment would "constitute 
careless expenditure of public funds"; money was lacking to teach 
these courses, anyhow; and the school should hardly be expected to 
maintain a bureau of educational research. Again the resistance to 
suggestion from the outside was evident: 

Even universities, not equipped with model high schools, have little 
right to feel that they are in a position to carry on effective research, 
much less draw conclusions about secondary-school matters. 

The secretary of the Parents' Civic League advanced an extensive 
list of proposals in the same year. While "appreciating the new build- 
ing," this group wanted a dean for boys and girls, an advisory system 
working with the deans to serve 1,600 students with each student be- 
coming part of a small group under a teacher-adviser, an enlarged 
social program, adequate and safe transportation, a PTA (meeting 
teachers at teas was not enough for these embattled mothers), a broader 
non-classical curriculum with work in home economics and citizen- 
ship, a health program that included a physical examination once a 
year, corrective gymnastics, participation of every student in some 
kind of game, provision of good tennis courts and more hockey fields. 

Reading between the lines, one is struck by the extent to which 
ETHS had failed to keep up with current trends in education. The 
high school division of the PTA in an undated report had insisted 
that the "efficiency of the school would be increased if the curriculum 
were so arranged as to permit to pupils greater liberty of choice in the 
studies pursued." The pupil was required soon after entering to 
choose one of seven courses, and this choice was almost the only one he 



exercised in his four years of work except for a very limited number 
of alternate studies, most of which had to be added to his basic course. 
(The only years in which seven courses of study were offered were 
1912-14 and 1916-8, which places this letter at a period well before 
1926.) After summarizing its investigation of courses of study of other 
high schools, the PTA spoke favorably of the practice of requiring 
three courses a year and allowing the student to elect his fourth. 
Making Latin optional was urged. The "need for some such change 
long had been commented on," the report closed ominously. 

What had actually happened to the curriculum since the day when 
Boltwood had added the Manual Training and Latin Course, with 
the injunction that no "special" diplomas would again be given? 
The usual birth and death of classes had gone on. The course in 
General History was "abandoned" in 1906, leaving classical students 
with a year of Ancient History and others with a choice between that 
and a year of Medieval and Modern History. Other courses planned 
were a semester offering of U.S. History and a year of "modelling" 
while the success of a mathematics course with trigonometry and ad- 
vanced algebra — suitable for those planning to enter technical schools 
— had made it a permanent part of the program. 

Two revisions of 1908 were the addition of a fifth sequence, the 
Modern Classical, planned for students going to colleges requiring 
three years of modern language as well as four of Latin, and the pre- 
viously mentioned choral class. (The only variation in the Modern 
Classical was that a modern language replaced Greek in the last three 

English was not taught in the sophomore year, and it led a some- 
what underprivileged life in the other three years, being granted five 
periods a week for only 27 weeks on the freshman level; five periods 
a week through the year on the junior; two periods a week in the 
first semester of the senior and four a week in the second. (All foreign 
languages received a full five periods every week of the year.) Physiol- 
ogy was compulsory by state law for an eleven-week period for all 

The choral class was a popular one, with 100 sophomores, juniors, 
and seniors enrolling for classes once a week. By 1910 it had been 
reorganized to consist of two glee clubs, one open to all boys, the 
other to all girls. The year also marked the demise of English History; 
It had once been required of everyone but met its downfall when 
"additional time" was needed for algebra. It was resurrected in 1910 
as an optional course. 

The introduction of the two commercial courses has already been 
described. In 1913 also appeared the first differentiation for pupil 
interest in the field of chemistry. Course A dealt with the more com- 


Evayiston and ETHS Groio and Change 

mon elements and included 50 laboratory experiments. Course B 
covered the same work as Course A in the first semester but paid 
special attention in the second to "work involving domestic problems 
. . . such as . . . foods and food values, butter and its substitutes, 
baking powders, preservatives, adulteration of foods, and other sub- 
jects bearing directly upon the economy of the home. This course," 
it added hastily, "is no less thorough than Course A and the same 
amount of time is given to it." 

Penmanship also made its debut in the commercial course, busi- 
nessmen having apparently already begun to demand graduates "who 
can write plainly." 

A third year of freehand drawing seemed the most all-encompass- 
ing course of the year. Students learned color schemes for walls and 
furniture, made landscape studies in different media, copied Japanese 
prints, worked from casts, became book-binders, and in the latter 
part of the course could choose between making such elegant articles 
as stenciled bags, pillow tops, table covers, gift and place cards, cal- 
endars, and so on. 

Mechanical drawing added a third year of work so that students 
could advance in "orthographic projections, elementary shades and 
shadows," and architectural drawing in which they completed a set 
of plans for a proposed building. 

1913 was a year of expansion. In music, plans were on foot for a 
school orchestra, with "definite instruction in . . . playing," and for 
two choruses in theoretical music covering "all those subjects . . . 
required of pupils entering second-year harmony classes in North- 
western University School of Music." 

Separate courses formerly given in physiography and physiology 
were replaced by a general science course. Emphasis was placed on 
hygiene. Miss Meta Mannhardt, a science teacher then, maintains 
that the "men killed" physiography because they couldn't afford to 
take classes out on field trips to see at first hand the physical features 
of the surface of the earth and relate it directly to geology. Instead 
they finally made of it a map reading course. 

At the beginning Miss Nfannhardt was sent to Oak Park High 
School's general science classes to observe their methods and evolve 
a similar freshman course for ETHS. The addition of physiology to 
this course was a relief to English teachers who had hitherto been 
forced to give up one quarter of their freshman year's instruction 
time to material that centered on the evils of alcohol and tobacco. 

The last adaptation was the combination of the four-year and the 
two-year commercial courses into one sequence "with the work ar- 
ranged so that the pupil may take one, two, three, or four years of 
the course . . . every effort will be made to give the most complete 



training possible to those who can remain . . . even a single year." 
No special notice was taken of it, but the formal listing of the six 
sequences open to students in 1914 reveals another important sign of 
the times. The Manual Training Course no longer required Latin, 
although its pupils still worked hard at such academic subjects as 
algebra, plane geometry, physics or chemistry. But by carefully pick- 
ing his "options," a manual training major could avoid all foreign 
languages. The commercial course also required no foreign language. 

Spanish crept into the curriculum by way of the commercial course 
in 1916 "to familiarize the pupil with the business forms, terms, and 
customs of Spanish speaking countries and to develop a practical work- 
ing knowledge of the language." Fourth-year pupils in the commercial 
course and a few third and fourth-year pupils in other courses were 
permitted to elect this language. Italian was attempted in 1918, and 
so was an elective course in second-year English, but the war made 
surprisingly few changes. Girls knitted for the Red Cross — nearly 60 
sweaters under way by the girls of Evanston Red Cross Shop aux- 
iliary — seniors organized sales of $8,200 worth of war savings and 
thrift stamps, and military training for boys was established with 150 
boys drilling every Monday and Saturday afternoon either on the 
lawn in front of the school or in Greenwood garage if the weather 
was bad. Drillmaster was one Sergeant Timothy Shea, "for many 
years in the regular army." By the end of the year the battalion had 
200 members in self-purchased khaki uniforms — the school furnished 
dummy drill rifles. (Not to be outdone, the girls drilled Saturday 
mornings in Patten Gym, 279 strong.) 

There was also a U.S. boys' working reserve;. 40 enrolled in a 
voluntary class in farmcraft — two meetings featuring illustrated 
lantern slides — and all were placed on farms in the summer to help 
produce for "our boys at the front." 

To students, at least, the most striking effect of the war must 
have been that school closed four times in 1918-19: January 14 be- 
cause of heavy snow that required the help of the boys to dig out 
the streets; January 23 because of a war-induced coal shortage; De- 
cember 10 because of the flu epidemic; and, finally. May 8 because 
of the boys of the 49th regiment coming home. 

Beardsley probably worried more about the draft which snatched 
so many teachers that "ETHS is lucky to fill its quota satisfactorily"; 
about squeezing four more classrooms out of the tight old building; 
about the insistence of some agitated citizens that German be dropped 
from the curriculum. It was not, but since no student registered for it 
in the war years, the class died anyway. 

Once the war ended, however, he returned to the building pro- 
gram, and the curriculum received short shrift. A check of Annual 


Evanston and ETHS Groiv and Change 

Reports from 1916 through 1927 shows that only commercial, manual 
training, and art sequences were added during the period. A few new 
classes arose, largely through the extra-curricular back door. Author- 
izing students to publish a newspaper in 1917, for instance, finally 
led to a journalism course in 1925; but the class met only once a 
week and was restricted to seniors. Similarly, the Senior Literary So- 
ciety with its impromptu speaking division evolved into a public 
speaking class in the fall of 1924; it too was held only one hour a 
week during the first three quarters of school. Members gave close 
attention to "management of the body and voice, removing of man- 
nerisms, cultivation of ease and presence," but liked debating best. 
The personal interest of physics instructor R. H. Hughes in "wireless 
telegraphy" brought about a 1920 afternoon class in his physics lab- 
oratory. Hughes himself was accustomed to setting up his car on a 
corner of the football field during games. On his own receiving set he 
received scores of other games which he then "passed on." 

But such courses typically carried no credit, met briefly and in- 
volved few students. The basic curriculum remained unaffected 
throughout this period. A particular sore point with mothers was 
the girls' physical education. Physical education for girls — on a two- 
hom-a-week basis — was introduced in 1918 for freshmen in the gym 
of the Haven Annex with Swedish gymnastics, posture training, and 
competitive games; but the upperclass course remained voluntary 
and skimpy. Next year the gym was switched to the neighboring Do- 
mestic Science Building, and no significant change occurred until 
1924, when the new building offered a chance to increase activity in 
field hockey, basketball, baseball, tennis (off the rented courts at 
last), the new field and track, volleyball, clock ball, teeter ball, ping 
pong and croquet; and certain "out of school" activities like ice-skat- 
ing and hiking. In 1924-25 the girls' department offered archery and 
soccer. The Winchester Junior Rifle Corps under Miss Mary Taft 
for the past two years had grown to three units which won five out of 
seven matches shot. Still, parents were not satisfied. Girls had no 
gym of their own but shared the handsome Beardsley Gym and had 
to keep equipment at the back of the school in a frame fieldhouse 
that may have seemed "homey" to some of the girls but was definitely 
too small. 

Though Mr. Beardsley did wonders on a shoe string of space and 
any criticism of his program brought quick denials from a loyal staff 
as well as many in the community, some parents agreed with a mother 
who wrote the Evanston Topics that . . . "something is wrong with 
the average high school student. He gets poor marks or he flunks and 
is indifferent to his flunking . . . ETHS is an unusually high standard 
school so far as educational facilities are concerned, but its atmos- 



phere seems to be extremely discouraging rather than encouraging to 
the average student . . . There is a lack of personal influence and a 
corresponding lack of interest and class s])irit and even school 
spirit. . . . Why not have a dean of young people who has the time 
to organize activities?" 

There certainly were very few activities. Transfer students were 
invariably impressed by the high scholastic standards and the genial 
interest the principal showed in their class work, but depressed by 
the absence of extra-curricular fun. "It hardly seemed like a school," 
one graduate recalls. "We were packed together in the old building 
and hustled home at noon with hardly a chance to know each other 
in any way that was fun." True, in 1916-17, the Dramatic Society ex- 
isted. It was an outgrowth of a one-act play traditionally given by 
the junior class for the seniors just before the June promenade in 
the Country Club. In 1914, a class of 35 had been organized under 
Miss Effyan Wambaugh for "self-expression in reading of parts and 
appreciation of the drama." With the help of screens, the classroom 
became a theater, and by June, 1915, the juniors were ready to give 
Rostand's The Romancers to a standing room only audience at the 
Country Club. Shakespeare was next in 1916, with As You Like It 
drawing a good crowd to the Evanston Woman's Club. 

The classes were up to an enrollment of 70 by this time. Play- 
writing had been added, and a small experimental stage was built 
for the study of makeup and lighting problems. 

The newspaper had faced a harder struggle to establish itself. 
Tradition was on the side of the students; The Budget of 1880 had 
brightened the Village High School's peripatetic existence, and 
The Record, a tiny monthly, came out in 1901-02 under Boltwood's 
regime. But Beardsley steadily refused the requests of the student 
literary society for a publication until 1917. Then an unauthorized 
Seven Scandals appeared, which was considerably milder than its 
title, the most provocative article being a parody of the 23rd Psalm 
opening, "Mr. ... is my teacher, I shall not pass . . . Yes, though I 
study till midnight . . . My stupidity runneth over." Meanwhile a 
faculty committee appointed by the principal spent several months 
investigating in other high schools the possible bad effects publish- 
ing a paper had on student scholarship. The experiment began in 
April with a handbook size Evanstonian that included divisions for 
eclitorials, school events, athletics, literary, and alumni articles. No 
ads were permitted, and the price was kept low enough for general 

The literary society which had urged this newspaper had survived 
in varying forms from Boltwood's days. In 1914, for instance, Miss 
Emma Reppert was sponsoring Waukon, which encouraged senior 


Evanston and ETHS Groio and Change 

girls to piactice parliamentary drill and study the short story; a 
typical program included a short speech on a type of short story, the 
retelling of several such stories, discussion of similar tales by the 
whole group, and criticism of the discussion. The group occasionally 
broke into this stern academic fare with a "hard times party" on 
Halloween with Miss Wambaugh presenting the witch scene from 
Macbeth. But the party broke up early "as befits parties on school 

Meanwhile, in 1913 the boys had decided to call their literary 
group the Forum and concentrate on "clear thinking . . . effective 
platform expression." Debates were popular, with an early team 
easily winning when it came out flatly against America's maintain- 
ing a large standing army. By 1915, the inevitable had occurred. 
The two groups combined into one, and the freshman girls, charac- 
teristically imitative of seniors, had set up their own Pynx. 

In 1922, the "first" senior class book appeared with pictures of all 
seniors and a list of the staff. Actually, there had been an annual 
in 1897. 

Most of the activities were reserved for upperclassmen. Only jun- 
iors and seniors had class colors and officers. The drama class was 
composed of juniors, it will be recalled, and the important literary 
societies were for seniors. The most significant social events were 
the Senior Evening, which dated back at least to igo8; the Senior 
Picnic; and the Junior Promenade. Early senior evenings were held at 
St. Luke's Parish House or at the Woman's Club. A typical early pro- 
gram included a short play, several other "numbers," refreshments, 
and an informal dance. The picnic was typically held on the beach; 
one in the 20's found Highland Park offered "almost a perfect spot, 
marred only by 313 stair steps to be negotiated before reaching the 
beach from the road." Dinner was followed by reading of the class 
will and prophecy. The promenade after the one-act opener started 
off with a grand march at 9: 30, the girls teetering a bit in their French 
heels, very conscious of their freshly-powdered noses and their care- 
fully drawn Cupid's bow lips. In that June of 1921, "jazziest" was 
the favorite slang word. The preceding year a newspaper had re- 
ported of this class that "bolshievism ran rampant," a somewhat ex- 
aggerated way to describe the late March day when a score of boys 
were dismissed for aping Chicago's "Roughneck Day." One boy ap- 
peared in pink socks, plaid trousers, a French necktie, and long 
narrow shoes on which colonial buckles glistened. The boys did not 
go home upon command, either, as the meeker girls had on St. Pat- 
rick's Day when Beardsley objected to their braided hair. Instead the 
"lads formed a snakeline . . . and danced to Davis Street where they 
put on an informal show in Fountain Square." 



The school gave students few chances to let off these high spirits. 
A contest in 1917 finally produced a cheer song, and in 1921 "a class 
for the training of cheerleaders was organized ... at the beginning 
of the basketball season"— for boys. Forty of them turned up at the 
"Y" two afternoons a week. A first and second team were chosen to 
lead cheering and songs at the games, "and there was even a printed 
book showing cheers and songs," a great factor in helping to inspire 
school spirit. Mass meetings at the "Y" were apparently the origin of 
today's pep rallies. The band, now well-organized, though students 
provided their own instruments and had only one practice period a 
week at the Greenwood Annex, was on hand. 

In 1917 five regular members had finally succeeded in organizing 
one after four earlier failures. There were too many drummers and 
no tuba at all, but they still played at most of the home basketball 
games. By 1921 they had 24 pieces and were "more successful than 
ever." There was an orchestra, too, for music was a significant 
activity under Mr. Osborne McCarthy and Miss Sadie Rafferty. A 
choral class met weekly; there was assembly singing twice a week in 
the homerooms (session rooms, they were called) in the main building 
and the Haven Annex. Of course, music had been in the curriculum 
since 1913; originally it was planned on three levels, a vocational one 
for professionals, an amateur level, and general elementary training. 
By 1916 a music appreciation class had been formed, and public per- 
formances were common — at the Municipal Christmas Tree Cele- 
bration, for instance, or at the Country Club where the choral class 
offered a cantata. Musical memory contests at the Chicago Sym- 
phony's Orchestra Hall were big news in 1924 when Miss Rafferty 
chaperoned down to the hall both all students who had studied for 
the contest but failed and a six-man team. The team, incidentally, 
took first place with a perfect score of 1,000 points. An operetta was 
announced for June 21, 1926. 

The World War I "battalion" was transformed into a Military 
Naval Training Corps of two units in 1920 with every cadet guaran- 
teed "an officer and a gentleman." The next year the naval unit was 
dropped because of lack of interest, but a Military Training Service 
was to survive for many years under various titles. Not particularly 
related to this unit was the Boys' Rifle Club, which had 130 members 
in 1920 and had to practice at a 50-foot range in the store building 
leased on Dempster Street. 

But the roster of activities virtually ends here with self-government 
a suitable topic for debate but not for serious consideration and per- 
haps the most effective extra-curricular group, one highly criticized 
by many. That, of course, was the fraternity organization Boltwood 
had reluctantly allowed to continue. In 1911 a Joseph Paden de- 


Evauston and ETHS Groxu and Change 

manded that the Board pass a resolution against the five active fra- 
ternities and sororities. He also suggested that diplomas be refused 
those seniors who persisted in belonging to such secret groups. The 
Board discussed the matter, examined the legality of refusing di- 
plomas, and hesitated. Parent disapproval plus negative expressions 
of opinions by teachers might, after all, be a better way to handle the 
situation. Oak Park had passed a punitive resolution against fraterni- 
ties and only caused more friction. By 1914 the fraternities were said 
to be voluntarily dissolving; in some cases, colleges were stepping 
in to dissolve the high school branches. In others, the high school 
members signed statements to the effect that they were disbanding 
in the best interests of the school. Beardsley had put himself on record 
in 1909 as considering criticism of fraternities exaggerated and be- 
lieving the final solution to the problem was to have parents step in. 

All Board members were not so sure. George Olmstead and a Mrs. 
Clifton were reelected to the Board on a platform of "no fraterni- 
ties." Mr. Olmstead went to considerable trouble to interview many 
authorities on the effects of these secret organizations and came to 
"abhor the idea." He expressed himself to that effect at a Board 
meeting, and the Board eventually backed him. 

The dissolution of such groups did nothing to solve the problem 
of the lonely average student, however, and in 1928 an education pro- 
fessor at Northwestern told a group meeting at the First Congrega- 
tional Church that the high school should do more than provide 
graduates much in demand by the Eastern colleges. Though the 
church bulletin of the next week decried the "misleading headlines" 
of the local newspaper, the issue was a deep one. It would be unfair 
to suggest that Mr. Beardsley had no innovations to his credit except 
the new building. During his administration both summer school and 
night school had been inaugurated and a cafeteria had been installed. 
Of the three, summer school was most clearly his idea. It opened in 
1916 with an enrollment of 162 pupils for a four-hour a day, six- 
day a week session of one month. 

"It was an experiment with us," the principal commented, "and we 
did not look for an enrollment of more than 75." 

Classes were offered in mathematics, typewriting, stenography, 
bookkeeping, and penmanship. Pupils who wanted extra work or 
had makeup to do supported summer school from the beginning. By 
1923, the eighth session, beginning July 2 and ending August 11, re- 
ported an enrollment of 638. Students then were urged to "work as 
fast as you can and take final exams when ready." Next year an 
athletic program was instituted; by 1925 English, French, German, 
Latin, science, history, and civics were on the agenda, and in 1926 
special courses in freehand drawing and mechanical drawing had 


been added. Typing drew the largest number, though. Thirty teachers 
were employed to handle the 470 students. 

Night school, on the other hand, was a community suggestion 
specifically that of the Evanston Revieiu which conducted a cam- 
paign, printing coupons to be sent to its offices, filled out by those who 
would like to attend night school. For six weeks, the newspaper staff 
collated the coupons to discover what courses would be best sup- 
ported, and on October 12, 1927, the school opened. Classes on Tues- 
day and Thursday offered English, stenography, typing, bookkeeping, 
commercial arithmetic, mechanical drawing, algebra, and geometry. 
The original registration of 225 leaped to 450. Authorities had ex- 
pected no more than 50 to turn up. Leonard Parson became director 
in 1928, the same year work in public speaking and auto mechanics 
was added. 

The cafeteria, like Topsy, just grew. In the old building, it will 
be recalled, sparse arrangements were made for students who took 
the few afternoon classes or who were reporting to teachers for special 
help. Bit by bit, the cafeteria expanded. Two-plate gas stoves and 
a tin oven in the storeroom proved inadequate. A large gas range 
was brought in. Two domestic science teachers were put in charge. 
By 1914 quarters had been enlarged, the School Board supplying extra 
equipment. Afternoon classes, steadily increasing, kept more stu- 
dents at school. On the busy days, 200 were served; on the light, at 
least 40. The average lunch cost 15 cents in those days. In the new 
building a one-story frame structure at the rear served as the cafe- 
teria. In a room 85 by 120 feet, 1,600 were served daily in 1926. Four 
complete counters made it possible to hustle 40 students through in 
ten minutes. Lunch prices now averaged 23 cents, with mashed po- 
tatoes a favorite student item. In the kitchen were "mammoth ovens, 
a potato peeler, a dishwasher, and a pantry filled with real pies." 

Yet, with the tremendous exception of the building program, 
Beardsley did not wish to move with the changing times. A retired 
teacher summarized it: 

The high standards of the school meant a lot to him. I suppose we 
were all conservative and a bit old-fashioned. . . . Beardsley thought 
anyone who hadn't studied Latin and Greek really hadn't been edu- 
cated. . . . Parents kept pestering him for new courses, and he was 
terribly impatient with their whims . . . more music and more gym. 
. . . The point was that we didn't have room, and he was doing the 
best he could with a bad situation. 

Withstanding curriculum pressures Beardsley considered unfair 
depleted him physically in the last years as much as the building 
fight itself. By the time the new ETHS was in full operation, his great 


Evanston and ETHS Grow and Change 

physical strength was going. The 200-pounder, who had once pushed 
a ticket office from one spot on the athletic field to another rather 
than wait for the workmen to come, was tired. That loss of strength 
may explain his slowness to use the new building in new ways; in 
any case, the Board turned to another kind of leader when Beardsley 


Chapter VII 
Principal Bacon Arrives 

What the Board of Education had in mind was sug- 
gested by its president, William Eastman, in a speech to the Chamber 
of Commerce during the transition period when he and Assistant 
Principal Barnum administered the school. The new principal "must 
be a business man, an organizer . . . able to meet the public and 
become one of us . . . (to) bind the city and school so closely that 
we will not hear of objections." In a long-remembered sentence, 
Eastman added that ". . . places in our curriculum need strengthen- 
ing, but we do not care to remove a single brick until we have a 
better brick to put in its place." 

By June 6, 1928, the Board's choice was publicly known. The new 
principal, who was to stay for 20 years that included a depression 
and a world war, would be Francis Leonard Bacon. He had been 
principal of Morton High School at Cicero (III-) for most of 1928, 
going there from Newton, Massachusetts, and he was in most ways 
the antithesis of Beardsley. Indeed, Miss Janette Lee, long-time 
ETHS registrar, observed him march briskly up the long walk to 
the school on his first day in September, tossing a set of keys in one 
hand, and commented tartly, "I didn't know we were getting a boy 
for a principal." 

At 38, Bacon did look young, with his light brown wavy hair and 
his firmly-knit lithe body; but he was no boy. He brought with him 
the sound beginnings of a national reputation. Professor Bancroft 
Bentley of the Harvard Graduate School of Education thought Ba- 
con's work in reorganizing the Newton secondary schools "little short 
of a miracle. He came to the system as an unknown young principal, 
and in less than five years effected a wholesale reorganization . . . 
without antagonizing parents or teachers." Indeed, on the strength of 
that reorganization he had been added to the summer school faculty 
of Harvard, where he lectured in the summer of 1928. And he had 
been named by the state commissioner of education in Massachusetts 
as an outstanding high school educator. Apparently the National As- 
sociation of Secondary-School Principals agreed with that evalua- 
tion; at least he had been its president in 1927. He also headed the 
department of secondary education of the National Education As- 


Francis L. Bacon 
Third Principal of E.T.H.S. 




It was a considerable achievement for the infant son born July 30, 
1889, in Kingman, Kansas, to Samuel and Alice Dukes Bacon — good 
colonial Connecticut stock, some Evanstonians were glad to note. A 
farm boy, he attended the Kingman County high school, graduating 
in igo8, and going directly on to Southwestern College (Wingfield, 
Kansas). After receiving his A.B. in 1912, he was almost 23, more 
than ready to start teaching at Blackwell, Oklahoma, High School. 
He was no classicist, though. Years later he was quickest to recall 
the football team he coached to victory; in one season his team scored 
400 points, losing only one game. Furthermore, the Blackwell eight 
dropped only four games in a total of three years and twice defeated 
teams trained by the Francis Schmidt who later went to Ohio State as 
head coach. Bacon was already interested in dramatics, too, and di- 
rected several plays — in addition to teaching classes that are never 
named. They could have been in English, however. He wrote ably 
and fluently, spoke extemporaneously with an ease Beardsley would 
have envied, and was particularly fond of Shakespeare. 

If so, his interests had broadened by 1916 when he completed work 
for an M.A. in political science at Columbia University. He then 
accepted a post at Meriden, Connecticut, continuing his study with 
a summer session at Dartmouth in 1917. It was during this period, 
too, that he met Elizabeth Nye, daughter of a Cape Cod doctor. She 
had grown up in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and graduated from 
Mount Holyoke, where she was said to be brilliant in music and 
French. Evanston records vary as to when they were married, but it 
seems most likely that they "had an understanding" when he went 
to war in 1917 as a first lieutenant in the chemical warfare division, 
and married after his return two years later. 

At Meriden High, Bacon was again a successful coach with a team 
that won the state championship, totaling 423 points in one season, 
an average of 47 per contest. The team, he recalled later, was "Notre 
Dame-American with Russian, Italian, Irish, English, German, 
French, Swedish, Polish, and Rumanian members." He found time 
to coach the baseball team as well; in two years the nine lost only two 
games. He also directed plays, continued his graduate study sum- 
mers, at Yale in 1921-22 and at Harvard in 1923-34, and became 
principal at Meriden High. From that post he went to the "classical" 
high school at Newton as "headmaster." 

Here he observed a situation that seemed to him educationally in- 
efficient in 1922. Newton, a town roughly equivalent in size and type 
to Evanston, had three high schools, the one he headed which special- 
ized wholly in classics; a second which offered commercial training; 
and a third which concentrated on what was then termed "industrial 
work." Before Bacon left Newton he had succeeded in combining the 


Principal Bacon Arrives 

three schools, luckily all located near each other. After seeing to it — as 
director of secondary schools, a title he soon assumed — that several 
new buildings went up, he managed to "intermingle the three 
courses . . . without antagonizing the interests who sponsored each 
kind of education, all of which had been in force for many years." 

Other aspects of his educational philosophy became clear during 
this period. He believed whole-heartedly, for instance, in extra-cur- 
ricular activities which were "character-building" and offered stu- 
dents a chance to take responsibility in school management. He 
thought teachers should be given departmental responsibility for 
planning curriculum. He was concerned about both the slow stu- 
dent and the fast; each should be able to progress at his own ability. 

He was not directly quoted about community responsibilities of 
educators; it was hardly necessary. At Blackwell he had managed 
to find time to serve as playground director, to organize the Boy 
Scouts, and to be a director of the YMCA. At Meriden he continued 
community affiliations. He was a Rotarian. He was a Congregation- 
alist. "Frank Bacon was," Eastman declared, "a man who works well 
with people . . . and is popular in civic organizations to which he 

In January, 1928, he moved back to the Midwest as principal of 
Sterling Morton. He left his wife in the East, as she had been ill 
for many years with "creeping paralysis." A teacher who knew him 
in Newton recalls his loyalty to his invalid wife during the long years 
in which she became steadily worse. 

So much was known. Much more was to be discovered about his 
tastes in the two decades that followed, for Mr. Bacon attracted pub- 
licity in a period when the press was increasingly indifferent to per- 
sonal privacy. The new principal with his pleasant, well-modulated 
voice and air of enthusiasm, disliked formality, it seemed. At least 
at the end of his first day in the school building, he chose to meet 
his faculty in the hall just outside his office. A newspaper commented 
then on his "exuberant youth and easy manner." 

The faculty observed with approval that he dressed well — "natty" 
is the adjective one teacher selects — -with a distinct preference for 
fine tweed suits, always perfectly groomed. His opening speeches to 
students in the big assembly room went well; he was never at a loss 
for an apt quotation, apparently, read avidly in the historical field, 
and drew easily on his reading. And he was keeping Mr. Barnum 
on as assistant principal, which meant administrative routine would 
continue to operate with machine-like perfection . . . even rigidity. 
The community reception line in Beardsley Gym one evening also 
went off well, despite the somewhat ornate touch of expensive Orien- 
tal rugs loaned for the occasion and looking singularly exotic against 



a background of basketball hoops. 

On the Other hand, the new man's ideas about education did not 
quite sound like Mr. Beardsley. "I am committed to no system of 
education," Bacon told one reporter. "I never have been because I 
believe each pupil should express his own individuality. If students 
wish to go to college, they must be prepared for it, and in addition 
know something about other things. If they wish to concentrate 
on commercial work, they can do that just as well." Just as well? 
In the Athens of the Midwest? Then there was that speech of Febru- 
ary, 1929, at the noon forum of the First Congregational Church in 
which he deliberately failed to list college preparation as a major 
objective of secondary education "because it no longer deserved that 
importance. Instead, it is merely a specific function." He preferred 
to stress health, citizenship, vocational guidance, recreation, and 
ethical principles, it appeared, and concluded, ". . . the old curricu- 
lum is falling down. . . ." True, he reassured the faculty in a carefully 
worded announcement in the teachers' bulletin. The staff was urged 
not to be "unduly concerned with the emphasis apparently placed 
against classical learning. Mr. Bacon earnestly believes in such learn- 
ing and thinks there will always be a high place for it. He also believes 
that this place is for the relatively few. His emphasis against clas- 
sical subjects was made designedly that parents might . . . realize 
that often other material is more suitable for their children . . . 
there will ever be too many trying to master abstract material because 
of its social prestige. In Mr. Bacon's opinion classical learning needs 
neither apologia nor 'promotia.' It will always be a challenge to the 
scholastically minded." 

A department chairman who worked closely with Mr. Bacon found 
striking contrasts between him and Beardsley. The differences were 
more apparent than real, the chairman believes. Both principals 
thought it unethical for a teacher to receive profits from selling a 
textbook to his own students. In Beardsley's case, an absolute policy 
had been set that no text written by an ETHS teacher should be 
used at the school. Mr. Bacon thought differently. If the best text 
were by a staff member, why deprive the students? Instead, remove 
the personal profit motive by placing all author royalties in the li- 
brary fund. Bacon valued sports and broadened the program for boys 
and girls; Beardsley was relatively uninterested in any program out- 
side the classoom. A woman who graduated under Beardsley and 
returned to teach under Bacon recalls the transformation as far as 
after-school activities were concerned. A sophomore transfer, she had 
never really felt she knew anyone at ETHS when she was a student 
there. Under Bacon, clubs proliferated, orientation became the by- 
word, and the school atmosphere lightened. 

Principal Bacoyi Arrives 

Similarly, Beardsley had resented and fought the Parent-Teacher 
Association; under Bacon it grew in scope and significance. It was part 
of a wider policy. Bacon was in favor of a strong public relations pro- 
gram that included working with many community groups and with 
newspapers. He needed to educate his public, for he believed he 
came, at the Board's specific request, with a mandate to broaden the 
curriculum. "I am committed to this," he told a staff that did not 
always share his commitment. He would have liked to hire younger 
teachers who shared his philosophy; as events turned out, the depres- 
sion kept faculty turnover down to a minimum for some time. 

In the meanwhile, he strongly favored teacher attendance at sec- 
tional and national professional meetings; for the first time it was 
possible not only to get away but to have one's expenses paid to such 
sessions. The new principal was eager to have his teachers learn what 
was happening to American education in those yeasty years of John 
Dewey. Many noticed that he left them free to try new ideas; if the 
idea proved a success, a personal note of congratulation would arrive. 
Indeed, his habit of dashing off those messages, frequently in his own 
handsome writing, is the trait most warmly remembered by his staff. 
The notes were always carefully composed and were particularly 
likely to arrive if a teacher had "done something particularly hard, 
something you didn't really want to do," one teacher recalls. And 
they always arrived promptly the morning after the event. 

Nevertheless, Bacon did not see as much of his staff as Beardsley 
had. For one reason, the faculty had grown. For a second, Bacon had 
many other demands on his time. The notes filled a gap, but the 
general impression was that he became rather aloof as the years 
went by; not everyone realized that he, too, was willing to give per- 
sonal loans and indeed much preferred to do so rather than see his 
teachers caught in the hands of loan companies during the grim 
depression years. They realized and appreciated more his prompt 
support of a teacher or department chairman in disciplinary prob- 

The staff came to know such policies slowly. In August, 1929, they 
only knew that, after a quick trip East to see his ailing wife. Bacon 
was taking his first vacation in several years aboard a tramp steamer 
that stopped at Alexandria, Port Said, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, and 
Cyprus. He was a fine sailor who eventually bought his own 50-foot, 
two-masted schooner, commenting rather wistfully, "I woidd rather 
be behind the wheel of a sailboat than anywhere I can think of." 
His office boasted a perfect model of a whaler, the Elisn Adams, a 
color etching of a blue, sunlit sea and ship given him by the PTA, 
and many books on sailing, some of them quite rare. In 1937, he 
joined forces with a staffer of National Geograpiiic to sail to little 



known areas of Alaska. 

That respite must have been welcome, for the eight years between 
his arrival at ETHS and 1937 had been filled with crisis, educational 
and personal. In May of 1929, he was called to Sagamore, Massachu- 
setts, where his wife was seriously ill. He returned for commence- 
ment services. On the morning of graduation he received a telegram 
which he read and pocketed before going through with the exercises. 
He "several times seemed affected by emotion, and more than once 
during the afternoon ceremony he was forced to pause," a newspaper 
account declared, and a mother whose son graduated that year agrees. 
The telegiam had announced that his wife had died of pneumonia. 
He himself was ill after her fiuieral, but a much more serious ailment 
was to come. On a trip to South Haven, Michigan, with a Board 
member in early October, 1932, the car skidded on wet leaves and 
hit a tree. In the "suicide seat," Bacon at first was said to have escaped 
lightly with only cuts and bruises. As it turned out, he had sustained 
a back injury that was to plague him during the rest of his time in 
Evanston. In January he went to Florida bound up in a heavy cast; 
earlier, he had tried a few afternoons at school and entertained the 
faculty at a little tea. Characteristically, he sent the biology depart- 
ment a foot-long alligator from Florida, and by late January he was 
able to work mornings again. 

The anxieties of the depression period were full upon him by then 
and may have contributed, with his love of sailing, to what the 
Chicago Tribune in 1934 rather unkindly called a "principal play- 
ing hooky." AVith Philips Lord of "Seth Parker" radio fame and a crew 
of "old salts," Mr. Bacon was off on a six-week vacation cruise down 
the Atlantic seaboard. "It takes a lot of fortitude to play hooky 
from school if you're the principal of the thing," the Tribune con- 
tinued. "Yet it wasn't any spur of the moment move on the part of 
Mr. Bacon, for as early as last summer he helped Mr. Lord select the 
crew . . . and outfit the ship. He also spent part of Christmas vacation 
on board and took part in the broadcast of that time." 

To this criticism, the school newspaper responded editorially and 
promptly, "For more than a year Mr. Bacon has worked unremit- 
tingly to keep open one of the largest high schools in the country 
during an era which has been as black in outlook as it has been red in 
finances. And this despite a serious auto accident over which he had 
no control, which confined him in the hospital four months, and from 
which he has not yet entirely recovered." 

In the meanwhile, the "Seth Parker" continued on her voyage, 
stopping for coast-to-coast broadcasts from various harbors, including 
one suggested by Mr. Bacon, dealing with Seminole Indian rituals 
and ceremonies. 


Principal Bacon Arrixws 

He was a man who could conduct an extraordinary number of 
activities without losing the youthful look that made his retirement 
in 1948 a surprise to new staff members. In Evanston, for example, he 
was at various times director of the Chamber of Commerce, president 
of the Rotary Club, active on the Boy Scouts Council, a member of 
the American Legion and the University Club, and a director of the 
YMCA. He busied himself in Community Chest drives; accepted 
membership on the Family Welfare Board, the Evanston Planning 
Commission, the Council of Social Agencies; and helped form the 
Tri-County Board Association. The honors that came to him indi- 
cate the scope of his activities. From the Boy Scouts he received the 
Silver Beaver, highest award that organization can offer. From New 
York came an invitation to join the exclusive Lotus Club with its 
membership of writers and others in the arts. From Williams came 
the offer of an honorary degree of doctor of letters of humanity, 
which he accepted. 

His remarriage, to Ruth Siefkin of Wilmette, in a quiet December 
23, 1937, ceremony, may have helped him juggle his schedule. Direc- 
tor of foods in the experimental kitchen of J. Walter Thompson ad- 
vertising agency before her marriage, Mrs. Bacon was skilled at pre- 
paring dinners and "refreshments" for the many meetings held at 
their red brick home on Orrington. One Board member believes that 
as many as two or three affairs were held there a week. Perhaps the 
most charming of the regular events was a Christmas dinner to which 
were always invited those on the staff who might otherwise be lonely 
or unhappy during that season. All such functions moved smoothly 
under the organization of Bacon's second wife. "The whole home 
setup was built around his activities." 

At the same time. Bacon was writing. He collaborated on books 
like The Administration of Secondary Schools; Foundations of 
Health; Old Europe and Our Nation; Youth Thinks It Through; 
Fact and Opinion; Shakespeare's Six Most Popular Plays; and Our 
Democracy Outwitting the Hazards, a highly readable book on 
safety, which was completely his own. He also turned out dozens of 
articles for professional magazines as well as shorter pamphlets like 
The War and America, explaining the background of World War IL 
He had done Why We Are at War for use in training camps during 
the first war. 

He continued to lecture at summer sessions in colleges ranging 
from Harvard to the University of Washington and was increasingly 
busy on national educational committees, including several which set 
landmarks in educational thinking during the 30's and 40's — the NEA 
Educational Policies Commission, which he directed during 1945-48, 
and the National Committee on Life Adjustment. 



Bacon was playing practically no tennis now, and he had little 
time to enjoy his collection of Napoleon's marshals, each in elegant 
Meissen porcelain. Once he had taken the lead of Petruchio in a fac- 
ulty production of The Taming of the Shrew, given to raise money 
for student aid. Such an exploit was impossible after the war. It is 
hardly surprising that, from 1943 on, he began to speak of retirement. 
He told the Board that he wanted to write, he wanted to supervise 
secondary schools on a broader base, he wanted to concentrate on 
college work. His faculty heard him declare at general meetings that 
it was important to retire "before you are too dried up to go on 
with anything else," and he made it possible for them to leave grad- 
ually, moving from a two-thirds to a half-time schedule. 

By July of 1948, the news was official. Bacon would retire, though 
not until January, 1949. His plan was to remain most of the semester 
at the high school as consultant for the new superintendent-principal. 
In fact, he did just that, preempting the large, inner conference room 
for himself, while the new head, Lloyd S. Michael, worked in the 
outer offices. Bacon left in time for the opening of the second semester 
at UCLA, returning to Evanston in April when an oil portrait of 
him was formally dedicated in a ceremony at the Woman's Club that 
drew 1,000. It was the third of such portraits. Beardsley's admirers had 
arranged for the first; then those who remembered Boltwood vividly 
were spurred to action by the school's fiftieth anniversary in 1933. 
Miss Effyan Wambaugh herself planned an elaborate reading of 
"Shakespeare and the Ancients" to help raise money, declaring, "A 
school is much more than a building. It is made up of influences. 
The memory of Mr. Boltwood and his successor, Wilfred F. Beardsley, 
is still alive at ETHS." 

As Bacon gazed at his own portrait, he may have remembered 
those words a bit ruefully. The first year he came, the school news- 
paper had placed on its editorial page a black-edged announcement: 
"In memory of the death of Wilfred F. Beardsley on January 12 last 
year, a bouquet of red roses, his favorite flower, was placed last week 
under his portrait in the lobby by a faciUty committee." 

But the real tribute to Beardsley's influence appeared in loyalty 
to his educational philosophy. Evanston was changing. Its popula- 
tion was growing, and the newcomers included many of the "flat 
dwellers" so contemptuously dismissed in the battle over the school 
site. Fewer of the wealthy were choosing Evanston as a home; the 
homogeneous tone of the community was being transformed into 
something more representative of all levels of American life. Yet the 
high school had not reflected this transformation. A teacher who 
came there from the East a year after Bacon's arrival describes it as 
"a typical Eastern prep school . . . No student ever came to class un- 


Principal Bacon Arrives 

prepared. The temper of the school was such that he wouldn't dare, 
not even in the 'fallback' classes to which I was assigned. We graded 
fiendishly. A 69 was a failing mark, and the final examination was, in 
most classes, the only basis for the mark." What evidently struck the 
new young principal most forcibly was the inflexibility of the school. 
He expressed shock to a department chairman at the idea of the 
"eternal homerooms," built into the very structure of the new build- 
ing by Beardsley. No man, he thought, should set up a permanent 
system and attempt to impose it upon new generations. 

He began to educate his staff toward using methods he had come 
to value in his graduate study. In the beginning he encouraged dis- 
cussion at faculty meetings; he also liked to give little quizzes, most 
of the material dealing with recent trends in education. The quizzes 
were duly graded and the scores made known to everyone. In the 
meantime, he began where he could, with a bulletin of some length 
tucked in the recently installed mailboxes. It discussed the "new 
form" examination with its short-answer, objective questions. Stan- 
dard modern testing principles were listed, such as the one that each 
test should include at least one question every student in the class 
could answer correctly and one hardly anyone could be expected to 
master. He pressed for department tests with standardized scores, 
and defined reliability and validity, those elementary concepts of 
twentieth century evaluation. 

He had already considered the exemption system. Under Beardsley 
four quarterly examinations had been standard. Each student took 
the first. After that, he might hope for exemption if his daily and 
weekly average was 87 or above. The exemption lists were posted 
in teachers' classrooms and drew clusters of students who were per- 
fectly willing to have three points cut from their 87 average if they 
might then be excused from exams. Only a confident few who had 
averages of 87 or better elected to take the exams anyway to better 
their scores. Bacon issued a bulletin November 14, 1928, listing points 
for and against exemptions — the negative list is considerably longer 
with its emphasis on the need for students to take exams as prepara- 
tion for college and for the educational values as well. By January 24, 
1929 — the roses would not long have been down from under Beards- 
ley's portrait — he was ready to cancel the third quarter exemption. 
Later all exemptions went, and he dropped the quarterly system in 
favor of semesters, with only one exam a year, that coming before 
the last marking period. 

And still the innovations came. Practice teachers, five "cadets" 
from Northwestern's School of Education, had arrived that fall. 
A Stylebook was compiled by the English Department giving manu- 
script form, punctuation rules, outline and "brief" forms, letter 



forms, correction symbols. It was not the first — one had been prepared 
in 1917 — but the thought was that all students should receive it 
next fall. 

An attack on the grading system took longer. Following what be- 
came standard practice, Bacon set up a faculty committee to work on 
the problem. Meanwhile he saw to it that the exam counted only 50 
per cent of a student's grade, daily work the other 50 per cent. A few 
courses had already followed this practice (science, where notebooks 
and laboratory work were counted; English, where written work and 
outside reading had a value), but now all teachers would counter- 
balance the final test grade. Then, on September 9, 1931, incoming 
students discovered the numerical system was being adopted. A cu- 
mulative marking system based on multiples of five went into effect 
with 90 to 100 "very good," 80 to 85 "good," 70 to 74 "fair," and 
below 70 failing. Only two formal examinations were to be given. To 
anticipate, this form of marking held until 1940 when the switch 
to numbers, this time "1" through "6" and "W" or "W" encircled 
occurred. A special provision for letter marks was made for the 
special opportunity classes that had been instituted for below average 

The bus log jam, an inherited problem, finally solved itself in 
1931, as the city company put on enough busses to serve the steadily 
increasing school population. Now the staggered schedule for mid- 
year freshmen could be dropped, and the catalog read serenely, 
"There is but one regular session of school, the hours being from 
8:30 to 3:00 o'clock, with lunch periods from 11:15 to 1:30." The 
lunch schedule itself soon exploded under the bulge of rising enroll- 
ment. As the fall term opened in 1931, a half-hour third period was 
added, lunch now lasting from 11:30 to 1:30. In another all-school 
change, plans to take photographs of every student were made. In 
1935 the News-Index reported the development as being of two years 
standing, with the school's own Camera Club under the redoubtable 
Mr. Hughes of earlier radio fame taking the snaps with a "small cam- 
era and artificial lighting." Appointments were scheduled during 
English periods and the photos themselves attached to individual 
records. In 1935, however, "a new method that makes 200 separate 
pictures on film" was being tried which "makes it possible to do work 
without cost to students." 

In any discussion of administrative detail during this period, the 
name of Assistant Principal Barnum crops up. Visitors remarked 
upon "the smoothness with which the school is operated; it has all 
the efficiency of the well-oiled machine, without the machine's per- 
sonality." Particularly admired was the system of saving student time 
on opening day. Postcards late in the summer notified them of their 


Principal Bacon Arrives 

homerooms. On the first day oi school they reported to that home- 
room, picked up their homework assignments and schedules, and 
school swung into action the second day. This system was begun 
under Beardsley, but Barnum brought it to full efficiency. Interviewed 
by a student, he explained that his planning began in the grade 
schools with his "first worry the successful absorption of the incoming 
freshman." Joint teacher committees tried to coordinate the work of 
grade and high schools. Personal records of the young students were 
kept, and ETHS representatives visited the eighth-graders to explain 
the curricidum and hand out mimeographed materials on program- 
ming. In 1938 an evening meeting at the high school was held to fur- 
ther interpret the material to parents and students. Then, during the 
first part of the summer, Barnum tin ned to working out teacher sched- 
ules, "one of the most exacting jobs," involving as it does balancing 
teacher desires with class enrollments. A committee worked through 
August on the final step, assigning students to classes. Meanwhile, 
of course, transcripts of records were still being sent to colleges and 
businesses. The framework described is clearly recognizable today, 
and it was Mr. Barnum who spent years perfecting it. 

Bacon was interested in making use of such inheritances as the 
homeroom system to help imify the school. In 1929, the morning 
homeroom period was lengthened to a half hour. In the summer of 
1930, he experimented with putting juniors and seniors together in 
a single homeroom, somewhat to the disgruntlement of the seniors. 
Now first-floor homerooms were junior-senior homerooms, and the 
six homerooms on the second and third floors were reserved for fresh- 
men and sophomores. This arrangement, the catalog states, "provides 
a valuable continuity of association — generally two years — between 
the pupil and the homeroom director, which affords opportunity for 
the pupil and his problems to become thoroughly understood and ap- 
preciated by his chief adviser. The lessened emphasis upon stratifica- 
tion according to year and grade permits the pupil to extend his con- 
tacts into the life of the school and tends to equalize pupil leadership, 
since each room has a better balance of pupil maturity and experi- 

Originally, the homeroom plan had been a happenstance. In the 
old building on Dempster a single assembly room held all the stu- 
dents for Boltwood's scripture reading and opening prayer, plus on 
certain days the spelling tests. As enrollment increased, no single 
assembly room could hold all students. Partitions were taken out of 
classrooms on the second floor to form a second assembly room. The 
first-floor room, directed by dignified Grace Cooley, was now reserved 
for juniors and seniors — perhaps 200 of them — and the second floor 
for 300 freshmen and sophomores with "jolly but militant" Miss 



Grimsley in charge. Eventually the seniors had a room of their own 
with Miss Cooley going with them. So did the juniors and the sopho- 
mores. Thus when Beardsley began to consider the new building 
the concept of four separate homerooms was already solidfying into 
a tradition. In his private file is a long account of "The Detroit House 
Plan," written by W. R. Stocking of Detroit's Central High School. 
The house plan, introduced in 1913, had spread to six other high 
schools. It arranged for segregation by sex with pupils from every 
grade in these schools within a school. Beardsley believed the home- 
rooms expedited administrative procedures. As Bacon had observed 
when he arrived in 1928, "Uncle Billy" had built the homeroom 
system into the new ETHS. 

It occurred to Bacon that creating for each homeroom an identity 
and personality might give students a special loyalty to the smaller 
group. The school newspaper of May, 1934, noted that he suggested 
special decorative motifs for each homeroom. The directors liked 
the suggestion. Soon 104, located in the hall where Latin teachers 
held forth and headed by Classicist George Whipple, became the 
Roman Room. Roman standards and shields were displayed, the 
peripatetic Alene Williams brought home from her summer travels 
authentic coins and other souvenirs of Roman civilization, and a 
Pompeiian miniature peristyle was contributed by a 1937 student. 
Russian artist Nicholas Kaissarroff (only one of the several ways he 
spelled his name) painted murals of a processional bringing offer- 
ings to the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill; alert students 
noted that Latin teachers provided the models for the togaed figures. 
"^ Rival homeroom 124 went Colonial with a ic^33 student, Donata 
Juarez, beginning the murals depicting such subjects as the settlement 
of Jamestown; 144 was nature-minded with a slogan "Life goes a-may- 
ing with nature, Hope, and Poesy in days of Youth"; and 164, be- 
came the Canterbury Room with murals painted by Kaissarroff. Sev- 
eral faculty members were painted as pilgrims on the horses reminis- 
cent of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Mr. Stacey Irish, long 164's home- 
room director, became the haberdasher. 

Competition between homerooms in sports and magazine com- 
petitions was lively but good-natured. Imperator Whipple one year 
lost the magazine subscription campaign and met the terms of a 
bet by donning a flowing red tie. In 1937 homeroom director David 
Cameron lost the bet and pushed a peanut across 104's floor for 
a distance of 85 feet. 

Homerooms, of course, gained added vigor because Bacon, from 
the first month of his administration, encouraged activities. He was 
equally interested in shaping a new curriculum, but here his tech- 
nique involved forming departmental committees — he had to create 


Principal Bacon Arrives 

chairmen, since Beardsley had never troubled with such positions 
— and having them report back to him after a study of student 
needs. Hence, the extra-curricular activities appeared first; perhaps 
"erupted" is a better word than "appeared," for the speed with which 
organizations were formed was startling. 

In the spring of 1929 Bacon distributed questionnaires to discover 
what clubs were wanted by the students and just how they spent their 
days at present. His conclusion: "In general . . . activities are limited 
in variety and number, and under the direction of a faculty committee 
on student activities steps are being taken toward the development of 
new interests for students." Actually, the school catalog of 1928-29 
lists only class parties, the senior picnic, the senior informal, the 
junior promenade, several girls' parties, the operetta, a cheer leading 
"class," a journalism class, which met once a week, the Evanstonian 
newspaper itself, the Military Training Corps, the orchestra and 
choruses, a public speaking class, and one in radio communication. 
The gym program remained limited, particularly for girls. 

Under the circumstances the students expressed a strong desire for 
more intramural athletics, for two dramatics clubs with wider par- 
ticipation, for two clubs in public speaking, for biweekly social gath- 
erings. The average student, it developed, studied four and one-half 
hours a day. Aside from regular classes, 60 per cent of the boys found 
other activities open to them. Only 30 per cent of the girls enjoyed 
non-class sports. The most popular sports, in order, were football, 
basketball, baseball, track, and swimming. Only four per cent partici- 
pated in journalism of any kind, and 15 per cent in music (Mr. 
Beardsley had not really favored music). A small nine per cent partici- 
pated in dramatics. Beginning a long-term and unsuccessful cam- 
paign. Bacon stressed the absence of adequate auditorium facilities 
as a cause. After school almost one-fourth of the students had regular 
paying jobs — 24 per cent, to be precise — and 60 per cent had home 

The public speaking program had just been given a shot in the arm 
with a tournament that was to survive until 1939. In the final weeks 
of the first semester every English student was required to give a 
speech before his class. The winner from each group went on to home- 
room competition, and the select few to semifinals sponsored by the 
PTA in March. Book prizes went to the ultimate winners. A little 
later, inter-homeroom debates were also held. 

The action was typical of Bacon's encouragement of activities. He 
suggested a library club, which formed in September, 1928. A student 
from each assembly room acted as homeroom librarian — the collec- 
tions on the shelves there were then much more regularly used. 
Members also assisted in the main library itself, scheduled regular 



meetings, collected posters, and arranged exhibits of various kinds. 
A puppet club, also begun in the fall of 1928, the Ethonettes, was 
well enough organized to give seven public performances in 1929-30. 
A Camera Club in February, 1929, had eighteen enthusiastic members, 
"who met weekly with plans to take pictures around school, develop 
them, and sell them to students" — a scheme originating with Bacon 
again. This group swung into action in the next few years, in 1931 
presenting its own movie, "Bargains" — 800 whole feet of film dealing 
with a rather moral story of a student who sought to cheat his way to 
success. In 1938, screen tests were again being given ETHS students 
for "Try Running It Yourselves," which, as the title implies, centered 
on a school in which every pupil fantasy was carried out from giving 
dances and free lunch in the cafeteria to permitting no tests or grades 
with scores under 100. The club also sponsored several movies to raise 
money for its third-floor darkroom. 

And still the clubs came. For four years before Bacon arrived, the 
upperclass girls had sponsored little sisters, each senior having one or 
two sophomore sisters and each junior one to three freshman sisters. 
Yearly, a party was given for each group of "little sisters." By 1930, 
junior and senior girls had formed Pentangle, named after its five 
points of service. There was a Christmas party, an annual spring car- 
nival (reportedly the "most fun of the year"), an informal dance, the 
"Turnabout," to which girls asked boys, a spring style show, and teas 
in the school lobby. They provided hostesses in the corridors and even 
had a clubroom of their own. Two years later, the freshman and soph- 
omore girls formed Trireme, from the Latin word meaning "three 
oars" (friendship, service, and cooperation). In 1937 they sold Christ- 
mas wrappings as a money raising venture, quilted and sewed for 
the Evanston Needlework Guild, wrote letters to all girls new to the 
school, had their own style show, wrote letters to foreign schools, and 
had taken over the lobby tea duty. 

Dramatics moved swiftly ahead when Clarence Miller, a North- 
western School of Speech graduate, came in 1930 from Lincoln, Illi- 
nois, to head the drama department. He rapidly expanded the courses 
in beginning drama, advanced drama, and stagecraft, instituted the 
one-act lunch hour plays with a nickel admission charge, set up small 
workshops in makeup and other technical aspects of theater, and 
planned for an annual banquet. "Drama 13" — the name came from 
the limitation set on class memberships — was organized for students 
who wanted to write one-actors and skits. The technical and produc- 
tion end of the annual operetta, Christmas Festival, and "Potpourri," 
a talent show first mentioned in 1937, also came under his purveyance 
with an assist from Mr. Frank Tresise of the art department. Another 


Principal Bacon Arrives 

of his concepts was the summer stock company, which gave plays tor 
students enrolled in summer school. The productions jjroved so pop- 
ular that they were rejieated in early fall. 

Another activity which crossed and recrossed the boundary be- 
tween curricuhun and extra-curriculum was journalism, which in 
1929 was an elective carrying one-fourth credit. The cub reporters 
produced news stories for the local papers, but in November, 1929, 
they polled the school to see if ETHS would prefer a publication of 
its own. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of a school newspaper, 
and it accordingly appeared, first as a biweekly, and then in April, 
1930, as a weekly. A larger six-column size and improved type face 
followed in 1931. By 1934-35, the paper had won its first national 
honors, receiving Quill and Scroll's top rating, and in 1935-36 the 
National Scholastic Press Association gave it the much-sought AU- 
American ranking. On the poetic side, one hundred copies of Soft 
Pipes appeared in May, 1929. Pupils bound the book themselves and 
stamped in the handcut drawings. The yearbook in 1930 was called 
a senior classbook and was said to be appearing for the first time 
under separate cover. It took top national honors, too, receiving 91 
out of a possible 100 points offered by the Columbia Scholastic Press 
Association in 1937. With the coveted Medalist rating went the com- 
ment of one judge that Evanston's annual was "the best for the year 
among secondary schools." The Pilot, the student manual listing im- 
portant school rules, names of teachers, and similar material, was first 
distributed in fall of 1936. By 1937 more than 2,800 copies went out 
to students. 

A third example of an activity that fingered its way into the official 
list of courses was the Safety Council. After Bacon was named chair- 
man of the Secondary School Division of the National Safety Council, 
he found the area vital enough to prepare a booklet, Good Driving, 
followed by the full volume, Outwitting the Hazards. At the high 
school Edgar Leach sponsored the Safety Council, an all-school or- 
ganization financed by the homerooms. Emphasis was strong on the 
coimcil after 1931 with two representatives in each homeroom — one 
chosen by the students, one appointed by the homeroom director. 
A keystone of the program was a series of illustrated safety talks given 
by students each semester to "the entire student body in groups of 
about 700." The number of cars arriving in the back parking lot 
would have amazed Beardsley by this time, and the rush hour situa- 
tion became bad enough in 1931 to require careful planning. A "con- 
crete apron was built out from the west entrance to the building with 
a canopy over it." The "bird cage" was born. Gates were installed 
near the south entrance, cinder driveways laid out, and one-way traf- 



fic Strictly enforced. After all, the News-Index item from which this 
information comes pointed out, a full 200 autos were parked at school 
daily, and another 200 called for students at the end of each day. 

Eventually Quadrangle, all-school boys' club formed in 1936 and 
drawing heavily on sports figures for membership, had to step in. 
A six-man committee of senior boys from each homeroom checked 
to make sure traffic laws were obeyed; serious offenders were reported 
to a traffic court, which had a rotating membership of student council 
members and a safety representative. By 1938, "as many as 600 cars" 
were using the driveways between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. The 300 bike 
riders received a yearly lecture on rules affecting them. But the aspect 
of the program which eventually became a class was the Safe Drivers 
School, held every other year. At four meetings, principles of safe driv- 
ing were explained. Alternating with the school was a series of driver 
tests; reaction time and vision were tested with devices loaned by the 
Chicago Motor Club. This practice led eventually to a course, origi- 
nally sponsored by the American Automobile Association through the 
Chicago Motor Club in early 1937. 

And still the clubs came: in 1930, the Stamp and Coin Club, a 
short-lived Woodcraft Council for girls interested in nature, and an 
Art League, which arranged for exhibits and lectures at school; in 
1937, a Cinema Club, which checked reviews of movies coming to 
town and posted its recommendations on bulletin boards near the 
cafeteria; and throughout this period, the student government group, 
which became known as Central Council. 

A political science major, Bacon declared in 1930 that "The most 
important point of the homeroom organization this year is that there 
should be more opportunities for student leadership." A temporary 
central student council was discussing the matter with him and plan- 
ning to involve more students in its program. This temporary group 
included two representatives from each of the junior-senior home- 
rooms and one from each of the freshman-sophomore homerooms. 
According to the school catalog of 1929-30, the two-member home- 
room councils were half elected, half appointed by the director. Chief 
function was "to lend assistance in matters pertaining to the social 
and civic interests of their assembly rooms. Those councils in turn 
appointed two members to the Central Council which met "at the 
call of the principal." Before long all-school elections — complete 
with primaries — were being held for the new Central Council. A 
rather characteristic discussion of this group's work is found in the 
1942 yearbook: 

Activities and accomplishments of this group are not broadcast to the 
school as a whole . . . but their decisions have far-reaching effects and 
have prevented many undemocratic actions . . . everyone realizes they 

• 100 • 

Principal Bacon Arrives 

(the councils) exist but few are well-informed as to how much power 
the councils have and what they talk al)out when they do assemble. 

One of Central Council's early projects, encouraged by Mr. Bacon, 
had been a mock presidential election in November, 1928. Described 
as "a distinct success" with students particularly enjoying the authen- 
tic specimen ballots handed out in assembly rooms, the election pre- 
dictably gave Hoover a landslide victory, 1,667 ^^ 3^5' although sev- 
eral humor-lovers wrote in votes for Will Rogers. 

Pressure of increasing activities and of the depression combined to 
produce the Budget Ticket campaign in 1931. Students who sub- 
scribed to the Budget Ticket could go to games and receive all pub- 
lications free. By 1933, prices had been "cut to the bone" — one dollar, 
with fifty cents payable the first semester. The extra-curricular flurry 
also induced a point system for participation. Each activity was rated 
in points — major activities rating five points each, minor three to 
one each. Pupils with averages of 85 or above were allowed unlimited 
jjoints, provided the homeroom director agreed; at the other end of 
the range were those failing in two or more studies who were granted 
a scant four points worth of participation. Misconduct slips cut a 
student out of activities imless the faculty committee on student 
activities listened favorably to his appeal. 

By this time it was possible to classify organizations as closely re- 
lated to subject matter, like the foreign language clubs or the Foren- 
sic; as basically service, like Safety Council; or as special interest, with 
a hobby tinge, like Chess and Checkers or, later, Saddle Club. One 
of the jobs of the director of student activities, Martha Gray, was to 
consider the worth of an organization. She had her own office by 
1940, in room 139, carefully partitioned off to permit student groups 
to use it, too. 

Even the student who resisted joining was affected by the new em- 
phasis, however, for he would at least attend general assemblies. 
Beardsley had used the big gym only for commencement exercises; 
it had been so long since there was room for all the school to meet 
together that he may have overlooked the possibilities of the gym. 

Mr. Bacon in 1928 scheduled the first all-school assembly, featur- 
ing Charles Paddock, then a famous runner, who discussed, not un- 
expectedly, "The Spirit of Sportsmanship." This assembly was fol- 
lowed by several other all-school meetings, such as an honor assembly 
for students on the honor roll at any time during the year, letter-win- 
ning athletes, and other prize winners. Social Hall, on the third floor 
of the new cafeteria wing, soon w^ent into use, too. In 1945-46, for in- 
stance, 80 special assemblies were held there. Some of them were 
geared especially to seniors, like the College Club conducted by Mr. 

• 101 • 


Bacon with staff aid. Here questions asked by seniors were answered 
in a rudimentary attempt at guidance. Some were departmental in 
stress, with English students, for instance, arriving during class peri- 
ods to hear a writer. Some were purely recreational, like the lunch 
hour play presentations and music programs. Homerooms also ar- 
ranged assembly programs, generally under the supervision of the 
Homeroom Council, and here Mr. Bacon, himself an amateur actor 
who appeared frequently at community events, particularly encour- 
aged skits. For many years. Miss Rafferty of the music department 
led her staff in regular weekly forays on the homerooms to direct 
group singing. 

Still another program which caught up the ETHS pupils who 
abstained from extra-curricular activities was the field trip. Some 
Evanston teachers had always utilized the class excursion method. 
Civics classes made the broadest swings, but "members of the free- 
hand drawing classes" visited the Chicago Art Institute and other gal- 
leries; ancient history classes went to the Field Museum; botany and 
zoology students headed for the Indiana sand dunes. In the 30's the 
Extension Tours Bureau was established, cutting across class lines to 
arrange after-school and Saturday trips to points of interest in busi- 
ness, radio, geography, history, government, science, literature, and 
art. Whenever a large enough group showed interest, a trip was ar- 

The spring trips to Washington, Virginia, and New Orleans gained 
in importance too, particularly as the increasingly active PTA realized 
the money-making possibilities of the vacation tours. Washington 
trippers in 1934 even encountered the new first lady, Mrs. Eleanor 
Roosevelt. One of the trip chaperones. Miss Mary Cutler, had tea at 
the White House early in the week of the tour and was told politely 
that the visiting ETHS group was too large to be allowed above the 
first floor of the White House. When they arrived, however, they 
were mistakenly directed to the upper floor in the corridor leading 
to Mrs. Roosevelt's sitting room. 

Recalled Miss Cutler, "We stood, the 150 of us, packed into the 
broad corridor, not knowing in which direction to face, when suddenly 
Mrs. Roosevelt came out of one of the rooms and gave a startled cry 
of pleasine and amazement. 'Oh, this will never do. I can't see you all 
from here,' she exclaimed. Like lightning, she shot through the crowd 
and took her place at the head of the stairs, where a line was quickly 
formed, and she graciously shook hands with us all as we filed down 
the stairs." 

Despite the depression, or perhaps because of its unsettling effects, 
ETHS students were likely to be found anywhere. Beatrice Frear 
the very next summer arrived in Europe as national winner of a 

• 102 ♦ 

Principal Bacon Arrives 

League of Nations contest. In comments that recall those of more 
experienced travelers in 1935, the ETHS senior declared that Hitler 
had done "wonders to unify Germany . . . the morale of the people 
is marvelous . . . Storm troopers are keeping them enthusiastic." She 
observed many Jews "apj^arently unmolested who appeared happy." 
She was less satisfied with Italy where she was stopped overly long at 
the Austro-Italian border, apparently because of some unfriendly 
comments she had made about Mussolini at the New York dock. 
Big city reporters had printed her criticisms, and the result was that 
she felt herself followed during the whole trip to Italy. 

Back home another objector to II Duce appeared. He was Joseph 
Hadley, whose daughter Dorothy had gone from ETHS to Howard 
University where she met and married Prince Malaku Bayen, reput- 
edly a nephew of Haile Selassie. When Italians invaded Ethiopia, 
Father Hadley maintained, "I'd be on my way to fight those hunkies 
tomorrow if it weren't for my family here." 

High school age Evanstonians were perhaps more concerned with 
the Tarzan movies. At least the school newspaper deplored editorially 
the jungle yowls sweeping the halls, regrettably mainly from the 
throats of juniors and seniors. "O Temporal O Mores, O Stop!" 
pleaded the paper. Madame Schumann-Heink, red-cheeked and white 
haired at 74, made more attractive melodies in April, 1935, when 
she sang German lullabies at ETHS. 

• 103- 


Effects of the Depression 

ETHS was changing, and the change made lively fun 
for its students. However, the depression made some changes impos- 
sible. At Bacon's arrival, a half-million-dollar building program had 
already been authorized in April, 1928, for both the new girls' gym 
and a cafeteria unit. An unusually severe winter delayed construction 
so that the cafeteria was not quite completed in September, 1929, 
though the "first and second floor mess halls" were ready for use. 
Each seated 500. A faculty dining room was also finished. The third 
floor, also planned as a cafeteria with a small stage on one side, was 
finally ready in February, 1930, and "dedicated with a performance 
of Sheridan's The Critic." 

The wartime frame building, moved to the new high school 
grounds from the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, would no 
longer provide students a chilly walk to lunch on winter days. Now it 
would house the ROTC — -new initials for the World War I organized 
military unit. 

As work continued on the girls' gym, it was clear that another land- 
mark was on its way out — the little white house used by girls to store 
outdoor equipment. With its green shutters, cretonne curtains, and 
squeaky victrola, it had served a dozen purposes.. On Saturday game 
days, girls cooked hot dogs in its kitchen to sell between quarters. 
During school days 40 to 50 girls tramped in every hour to dress for 
gym. After school, the victrola sometimes played for dancing, and 
there was even a rumor that a pajama party had been held one eve- 
ning. Now the lockers and shower equipment had been moved to 
the main building. Piles of lumber were heaped on the porch; inside 
were a few rickety chairs, a dirty cook stove, and a workbench piled 
with blueprints. 

However, it was hard to mourn the past when the new gym unit 
was so much better. Originally a room for a physician was planned for 
the first floor, as well as a lecture room for nutrition classes, two small 
exercise rooms for individual gym work, such as folk dancing and 
small comi games, shower and locker rooms. The main gym was to be 
on the second floor with offices for the staff. This scheme was reversed, 
with the health unit eventually opening in 1931 on the second floor. 

Meanwhile, the home economics apartment in a similar position 
on the third floor of the cafeteria wing was attracting attention with 

• 104 • 

Effects of the Depression 

its living-room, den, dinette, bedroom, bath, kitchenette, and roomy 
closets. Off the living-room were food and clothing labs. In time, the 
girls took turns spending a full night in the apartment, preparing 
their own suppers, sleeping on cots, playing games, and listening to 
the radio. 

Bacon had hoped for a real auditorium almost from the moment 
he arrived. In November, 1928, he pressed for such a unit in a public 
speech, with the Rex/iew making its usual suggestion that the public 
subscribe to it as a war memorial. On October 23, 1929, architects' 
sketches of the auditorium "expected to be built within the next five 
years," were released. The sketch shows the auditorium on its present 
site; it was planned to seat between 2,000 and 2,500. However, the 
depression halted progress. Bacon had trouble enough squeezing out 
sufficient money for a three-room separate office at the north end of the 
lobby; he paid for all furnishings himself and was glad to do it to 
achieve a "satisfactory spot for private interviews." 

The next problem was an enrollment bulge. More than 225 new 
students arrived at midyear, 1931, filling the building to capacity. 
With indication that World War I babies, now high school age, 
woidd be swelling that enrollment in the next years, a new classroom 
wing was vital. Freshmen were being tucked into "overflow" class- 
rooms. According to Bacon, 500 new seats were needed to put the 
ninth-graders in assembly rooms of their own. He predicted confi- 
dently — and, as it turned out, conservatively — an enrollment of 2,980 
by 1932. If a new wing holding 750 were constructed by then, the sit- 
uation would be under control but only just. On March 7, in the 
season's worst blizzard to date, an election for a $510,000 addition 
passed with 609 votes cast, 565 in favor of the wing. Ground was 
broken as rapidly as possible, specifically on March 26, 1931, for what 
was to be the 164 wing with its three assembly rooms and 18 class- 
rooms, plus the health unit mentioned before. By January of 1932, 
and no more than just in time for the midyear students, the wing 
was ready, although the second-floor assembly room was not going 
into operation until the next fall because of the expense of hiring new 
personnel. This "northwest section," as it was called, "completed 
the balanced design of four academic wings" envisioned by Beardsley 
in his expansible plan, "relieved the existing congestion, gave some 
margin for growth . . . and gave the school its first enclosure," soon 
known as Senior Court. 

After this construction, building virtually halted. In November, 
1933, the Board of Education discussed seriously building a perma- 
nent football grandstand, "possibly of concrete." The portable stands 
that had been used were dangerously old. And, in 1938, Bacon must 
have thought he had the elusive auditorium in his grasp. 

• 105- 


Under the New Deal, the Public Works Administration had been 
formed, and a federal grant for half the cost of a $500,000 building 
was available as of May 19. The School Board made a survey of par- 
ents, who seemed favorable enough. Of 1,342 questioned, 1,231 were 
for the auditorium. A referendum was set for September 24. The 
vote of 732 went two to one against the project. Recalling that elec- 
tion, a native Evanstonian says proudly today, "We kept the PWA 
out of our town." 

Taxes may have had something to do with it, too, but before turn- 
ing to the problem of school finance, the building story can be fin- 
ished here. As the school pulled itself out of debt, World War II 
loomed on the horizon. Materials were unavailable; the only possible 
expansion was in the purchase of land. In July, 1944, the Board 
bought for $31,000 a ten-acre site lying immediately to the north of 
the school athletic field. Back when the building was first going up, 
Board Member Mrs. James Patten had recommended acquiring the 
land. The purchase went through in 1944 because money was avail- 
able, and the property itself was going on the market through fore- 
closure proceedings. Plans were to move the football gridiron across 
the street to the new acreage, which would in turn give the school 
space for a larger parking lot. (Twice the present space would be 
needed after the war.) The girls hockey, archery, and baseball fields 
could be enlarged, too, and more shop space provided. 

One other minor building project went into effect in February, 
1946, when boys in the building trades classes put up a double house 
and a number of pre-fabricated one-family units. The houses were 
meant "to help alleviate a critical housing shortage for faculty 

Until the end of the war, matters had to rest there; but in Febru- 
ary, 1947, Bacon was advocating the need for more space for gym 
facilities and for shop. Evanston backed his request for a $1,600,000 
addition on April 15, 1948 — the vote was a thumping 703 for, to 128 
against. But Bacon was lecturing at UCLA when ground was finally 
broken for new gyms and a fieldhouse. 

Through a combination of forces — -the PTA and the boys of the 
new building trades classes — it was possible to add a horticulture lab- 
oratory and adjoining greenhouse. Also between 1933 and 1939 the 
Evanston Associates and the Garden Club began the program of plant- 
ing ivy, hedges, and shrubs on the school grounds. At about the same 
time, in 1934, interior decoration in the form of murals began. Mrs. 
Patten, generous as usual, made the Patten Reading Room adjoining 
the library possible with Kaissarroff illustrating the story of book- 
making. Then ETHS artist alumni and students of the Evanston 
Academy of Fine Arts continued the work, decorating the rear lobby 

• 106 • 

Part of the growing E.T.H.S. included a greenhouse financed by the P.T.A. 
and built by boys in building trades classes in South Court. 



walls of the second and third floors with Roman, Italian, and Spanish 
scenes. The homeroom and Spanish classroom murals have already 
been mentioned. An art corridor with permanent exhibit space for 
pictures and current exhibits was begun in the second-floor cafeteria 

But the depression financial situation made limited all projects. 
A general outline of the situation is given by M. L. Hampton, busi- 
ness manager of ETHS at that time: 

"During the early twenties the financial status of the high school 
had been very good, and the school administration had no worries 
concerning money matters. Taxes were paid on time, and collections 
were near loo per cent. In the late twenties the picture changed. Tax 
assessments in Cook County were high and included many inequities. 
A taxpayers' group was able to get the 1928 assessment voided for 
Cook County so that all the work of assessing property in the county 
had to be done over, and as a result tax bills for 1928 payable in 1929 
were delayed one year. This delay would not have been so bad if it 
had not been for the stock market crash in the fall of 1929 and the 
general depression which followed. The Board of Education was able 
to sell 1928 and 1929 tax anticipation warrants in large amounts and 
had no trouble with school finances. They were also able to refund 
bonds and interest due. By 1930 the depression was in full swing and 
the school people throughout Cook County were in financial trouble. 
They could not borrow on either tax warrants or bonds because 
lenders would not loan on this type of security. This meant that 
Cook County taxing bodies, which included Evanston schools, had 
no funds with which to pay teachers and other employees. The schools 
began to issue tax warrants in small denominations of $25, $50 and 
$100 to employees and creditors for payments due them. If the per- 
son who received the warrants needed money, and most did, he had 
to sell the warrant to another party to get cash. This was hard to do 
in the middle of the depression. Of course, many employees had very 
little sale for their warrants. 

"The three boards of education in Evanston found that they were 
able to trade large blocks of tax warrants for books of merchandise 
coupons. They then gave the coupon books to employees in lieu of 
money. A common office with a manager was maintained by the 
schools. The function of the office was the sale of warrants and coupons. 
The coupon sales were negotiated by paid agents, and the costs to 
the schools were considerable. Among the various types of coupon 
books were the following: $10 — Standard Oil; $10 — Sinclair Oil; $10 
— Reid Murdock; $5 — Balaban 8: Katz. These coupons could be used 
in direct payment or sold to others for cash much easier than tax 
warrants. The purchase of hundreds of thousands of dollars of small 

• 108 • 

Effects of the Depression 

coupon books brought an undue amount of extra book work for the 
school office. A teacher might receive ten $10 Standard Oil books, five 
$10 National Tea books, one $30 school check, one $25 tax w^arrant — 
total $205 on his salary account. These payments were made when- 
ever the employee could make use of the coupons or warrants. All 
were numbered individually and credited to the proper account. 
With the help of students, parents, and merchants of the area, school 
employees were able to pay bills and get along. Naturally there was 
much belt tightening on the part of all. Beginning in 1931 there were 
salary reductions for all employees. These continued until the late 

"All of this period in the school's history came in the early part 
of Mr. Bacon's administration. It caused him many problems in 
hiring and dealing with teachers. By the year 1935 the Board of Edu- 
cation was able to sell warrants to banks in large blocks and to use 
the money to pay employees in the regular way. Taxes were being 
collected, early warrant issues were being paid, and financial matters 
took less time of school officials. 

"Although the depression was hard on school personnel, it was not 
as hard on them as on many persons in other businesses. Many of 
these had a job one day and not any the next day. Many teachers were 
able to save more during this time than before or since. One reason 
was there was no income tax on school employees." 

The week-by-week picture of the depression's toll on ETHS was 
reflected more specifically in newspaper accounts. The 1928 tax post- 
ponement denied the school system its normal revenues and forced 
it to operate on funds raised by the sale of tax anticipation warrants. 
By law, only 70 per cent of the actual levy could be used under this 
system, so a 25 per cent economy had to be effected immediately in 
the school's operation. Then the problem was aggravated by the in- 
ability of property owners to pay their taxes with delinquency run- 
ning about 60 per cent in any given year from 1930 to 1935. Another 
blow occurred when assessed valuations were cut from $93,137,760 
in 1930 to $53,711,170 in 1935. This decrease in property valuations 
continued steadily. In 1939-40, the continuing reduction of 50 per 
cent meant that even forcing the tax rate itself from $0.93 to the 
then legal limit of $1-371/2 ^^^^^ "^^ produce as much income as the 
much smaller rate once had. 

The local newspapers blamed the situation on Cook County poli- 
ticians, the Review saying editorially in 1932, "The tax assessing ma- 
chinery set up by the constitution and statutes of the State of Illinois 
has broken down for a number of reasons beyond control of the tax 
levying bodies represented in Evanston . . ." and much more bitterly 
a month later, "We are caught between the upper millstone of a 100 

• 109- 


per cent political governor's inability to take decisive actions and the 
nether millstone of the colossal incompetence, greed, and dishonesty 
of Chicago's politicians. Disannex from Cook County . . . This way 
lies salvation." 

Meanwhile, immediate action was needed. In July, 1929, school 
authorities were conferring with the president of the City National 
Bank and Trust Company and the township treasurer. Taking ad- 
vice from a firm of legal experts on school finance, they were discuss- 
ing how to sell the tax anticipation warrants. Local banks had already 
"about reached their maximum lending power to the schools." A Chi- 
cago investment house was found to accept the warrants, and it ap- 
peared possible that school would stay open from September until 
the first of the year. In February, the school obtained funds for six 
more weeks; but now Chicago banks were no longer willing to accept 
the tax warrants. With $40,000 a month necessary to keep ETHS 
open, authorities went East for buyers . . . and found them. 

Prosperity was hardly just around the corner, however. Despite a 
modest increase in the annual tax levy — $10,000 more, making a total 
of $990,000 — it looked again as if the school might close. Letters were 
sent to 3,000 parents urging them to buy tax warrants as "the public 
must now step in." Civic leaders met at the North Shore Hotel to 
whip up enthusiasm for the sale in a mass meeting, and American 
Legion members began a house-to-house canvass late in December. 
The warrants came in $1,000, $500, $100 and $50 amounts and would 
became payable in "about a year" out of 1931 taxes. 

Soon the PTA was called in to help. Bacon made the speech cir- 
cuit of local schools explaining the safety of the tax warrants. A Com- 
mittee of Six tried to make emergency arrangements to meet the crisis. 
There was even talk of borrowing on the children's Thrift Club 
savings. Meanwhile, teachers faced their first payless payday. In Feb- 
ruary, 1932, 400 PTA members started another city-wide canvass. 
Warrants were being issued in $25 sums now. A great thermometer 
went up in Fountain Square to record progress of the drive, and little 
red schoolhouse stickers plastered the windows of buyers. 

In a special plea published in the Revieiv, A. D. Saunders, chair- 
man of the tax warrant drive, warned: "Permit me to assure Evans- 
ton that the situation is acute. This is not a time for complacency. 
Many things that have always been in our lives are vanishing . . . 
One-third of our normal annual school tax must be secured in cash 
between now and the end of the school year if we are not to suflFer a 
complete closure of our schools . . . Teachers have indicated a whole- 
hearted willingness to accept tax anticipation warrants for a consid- 
erable portion of their pay." 

But early returns lagged behind the goal with less than $60,000 

Effects of the Depression 

subscribetl and not all of that in hard cash. The high school was in 
full retrenchment by this time. Though enrollment was steadily in- 
creasing — it was already 3,000 in 1933, with an influx of Chicago 
residents seeking to escape the even worse school situation there — 
the teaching staff was actually decreased. Class size went up from 17 
to 28 pupils per teacher. Clerical and janitorial staffs were cut, too. 
Fees were not charged in science and commercial courses where spe- 
cial equipment was required. The allotment for supplies and main- 
tenance was slashed 60 per cent. Salaries were cut from 10 to 20 per 
cent, and it was decided not to offer teachers their contracts for 
1932-33 in case school was not able to run the full term. Economies 
had already been effected in both night and summer schools. As early 
as 1929 Bacon was recommending a minimal night school fee — say, 
$10 a student — although this move was more to discourage irregular 
attendance than to save money. In 1931 the fee went into effect, with 
the proviso that any student who maintained a 75 per cent attendance 
would receive his money back. But night school shut down soon 
afterward, only reopening in fall, 1933, on a self-supporting basis 
when adequate enrollment was assured. Similarly, summer school, 
booming in 1929 with a peak 784 enrollment, slashed its curriculum 
in half in 1930 in an economy move. After one summertime indeci- 
sion, it was decided to open in September, 1932, since the Board had 
a month's funds on hand! 

However, the worst of the pinch was over, for contracts had been 
made with "merchandising organizations " to accept the tax warrants 
in return for trading certificates. Provisions had also been made with 
certain hotels, apartment buildings, and rooming houses so that the 
warrants would be accepted as rent. Chain stores — food and clothing 
— had agreed to cooperate. Teachers were advised to "Throw away 
your pocketbook and get a satchel." They were paid in tax warrants, 
coupon books (peddling $100 gas coupons wasn't the easiest job in 
the world), and occasionally a little money. 

Both PTA mothers and students helped teachers dispose of the 
pesky coupon books. Pentangle girls acted as salesmen in the home- 
rooms, one chairman picking helpers. The volunteer salesmen did 
rather poorly during Christmas vacation but got into stride in the 
new year. By 1933 the committee, now headed by teacher sponsors, 
was adept in trading off coupon books issued by Sinclair and Penn- 
sylvania Oil companies. National Tea, Armour, Sears Roebuck, Wal- 
green's, Reid Murdock's, and Balaban and Katz. PTA help ranged 
from one mother who won the affection of junior high teachers by 
picking up their "pay-checks" in the morning and making the rounds 
of markets, returning with a handful of cash, to a much more official 
organization. By December 22, 1932, a sales office had been opened 


on the first floor of the Woman's Club where purchasers of teachers' 
coupons could come more conveniently. Student middlemen were ap- 
parently sometimes forgetful, and the trip to the high school tire- 

The PTA did even more in the case of student aid. Originally 
established as a student loan fund, the program was renamed in 1930 
when it became clear that needy students hesitated to take a loan 
they might not be able to pay back. The aid committee at first sup- 
plied texts for those who could no longer buy their own and sought 
part-time jobs for students who needed them. By 1932, 100 boys and 
girls were registered with the student program. The PTA in the 
preceding year alone had raised $1,000 for books and lunches. Cloth- 
ing was collected for redistribution. The spring trips, benefit musicals, 
special talent shows, faculty production of Shakespeare — such meth- 
ods kept the fund growing so that in 1933 the program kept 400 in 
school. Under Stacey Irish, a system had been developed by which 
books were rented at 25 cents each and returned in good condition. 
To pay the rent, students agreed to work for the school whenever work 
was available in such areas as clerical or messenger service, or in 
other ways. 

But fall of 1934 brought better times. "Day of trading grocery 
coupons for haircut and kidding the landlord into accepting gasoline 
coupons for room rent are a thing of the past for teachers at ETHS 
— at least for the time being," the Reirieio reported. For the first 
time in three years, real money was to be available for the faculty. 
A sale of a large quantity of tax anticipation warrants through the 
First National Bank made it possible to give up the merchandise 
coupons, and that November the high school managed to balance its 
budget within $6,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30. The Novem- 
ber issue of tax anticipation warrants was the lowest in many years. 
"The district is now meeting all its current obligations with cash 

Improvement was steady thereafter. Teachers' salaries went up a 
slim five per cent in the fall of 1935, and the interest rate against the 
1934 tax anticipation warrants dropped from five per cent to 31/2 
per cent. The Nexvs-Index noted editorially: "It would be hard to 
find more convincing proof of the excellent financial status of the 
Evanston High School than the announcement . . . the best kind of 
testimony from hard-headed, strictly business source that the high 
school's obligations are sound and that its financial rating is of the 
best. Evanstonians wisely brushed aside criticism of the high school's 
finances which were a part of the campaign preceding the spring 
school election." 

The final sentence referred to a byproduct of the financial crisis, 

• 112 • 

Effects of the Depression 

a movement against the school caucus sparked by a tax rebellion. 
The caucus, which named candidates for the School Board, had been 
markedly improved in this period. Originally it met most informally, 
typically only when a vacancy caused by the death of a Board member 
suggested the need for a new nominee. It was not uncommon to name 
a leading citizen who had contributed to the community in some 
other way; his Board membership became an honor and reward for 
services rendered. Members were not particularly criticized for spend- 
ing a year in Europe directly after being named to the Board. Once 
on, they might remain indefinitely — or be dropped unreasonably be- 
cause "So and so is such a nice fellow and he'd like it, I'm sure." Any 
person who obtained 50 signature on a petition was eligible to run, 
and a simple plurality elected. 

Such hit-or-miss method often turned up active and worthy mem- 
bers, like Mrs. Patten, whose interest in the school remained alive 
years after she ended official service; but there was no guarantee that 
this result would occur. The situation disturbed Mrs. Robert Lewis, 
who was president of the high school Parent-Teacher Council, as it 
was then called, and a member of District 76's Board of Education 
(the grade school system was then divided into a north Evanston Dis- 
trict, 75, and a south Evanston District, 76). She appointed a caucus 
committee to evaluate the nomination methods. The six members — 
two from south, two from north, and two from central Evanston — 
agreed on the setting up of a more balanced representation of com- 
munity interests and professions on the Board; of limiting member- 
ship to twelve years; of geographic representation; of instituting reg- 
ular meetings; of checking closely on the worth of services of those 
already on the Board so that experienced members were not lost in 
the shuffle of spring nominations. A non-sectarian and non-political 
emphasis was occasionally heavy in the go's to caucus candidates. In 
April, 1935, the Young Republican Club put young Mr. John Tittle, 
son of the Reverend Ernest Tittle of the First Methodist Church, 
up against the popular and experienced Mrs. Thomas Sidley. "She 
won 2,077 to 241, and the Review acclaimed her choice as a victory for 
the best method." 

The final word, however, belonged to its columnist, "The Saun- 
terer." Earlier that April a variety show, "Parents and Titillating 
Teachers," produced as so frequently happened those days to raise 
money for student aid, had offered a program that included Ed 
Shanks' "crooning fathers," high school teachers like George Whipple 
and John Brauer mincing about in a knitted sports fiock and ravish- 
ing kimono respectively, and Bacon himself "suffering in silence for 
15 minutes" in what must have been a climactic skit. 

The opportunity for a pun was clearly not to be missed, and the 

• 113- 


"Saunterer" commented briefly on the election, then added, "I see 
the high school teachers are not to be TlTTLEated, after all." 

In 1936, another splinter group dissented from the official choice 
and backed Arthur Rogers for the Board. Despite the Review's de- 
mand for an outpouring of aroused voters, Rogers won 843 to 709. 
The final tiff occurred in 1938 when John Louis was first offered a 
nomination, refused it because of lack of time, was replaced by Roy 
Cooley, and then decided to enter, after all. The caucus, feeling obli- 
gated to remain with Louis, faced what proved to be its last important 
test in the 30's. In a record vote for a school election Cooley polled 
2,838 votes as against 2,401 for Louis. Evanston apparently preferred 
to back the caucus which by this time represented 51 organizations, 
particularly PTA's. Incidentally, Louis later served on the Board with 
Cooley, for the caucus supported him when another vacancy occurred. 
In 1939 another independent candidate, Thornton W. Merriam, won 
on a write-in campaign, but by this time the caucus was less active in 
supporting its candidates. In time, the official policy changed once 
more to real support, and caucus candidates were likely to win. 

The financial situation was clearly on the upswing during this 
period. In 1935 the district was able to use warrants against taxes in 
the current collection, and in 1936 the Board felt the time was ready 
to ask that the legal tax rate be increased froin $1.38 to '$2 "because 
of the continued reduction in assessed valuation." 

Teachers had some requests, too. They petitioned in 1937 for full 
restoration of their salary cuts; they had been cut 10 per cent in 1932 
and then another ten per cent. A five per cent increase in 1935 had 
been followed by a flat 3 per cent increase across the board, but the 
staff pointed to the increased teaching load and higher cost of living 
as factors demanding further consideration. That May the teachers 
received their increase. 

The moment seemed propitious to Bacon to begin stressing the 
need of a stronger vocational program which would mean, of course, 
better shop equipment and extra teachers. 

It was hardly the first suggestion he had made to that effect. When 
ETHS observed its golden jubilee in 1933, a newspaper story con- 
cluded that the last decade had "marked the transition of ETHS 
from the traditional college pre-school to a large city high school of 
the comprehensive type." Bacon believed firmly in the necessity of 
this change and had gone on record many times from September, 
1928, on, arguing for "working out a curriculum that will do away 
with the dead courses of study of the past and tying up specifically 
for the job the student is preparing to do." He was strongly against 
"prescribing a classical education for children who never go to col- 
lege" and promptly named a general faculty committee to report on 

• 114- 

Effects of the Depression 

needed changes in the school curriculum. The result of that study was 
communicated to the facidty in February, 1929. Among the recom- 
mendations: English should be required four years; neither algebra 
nor plane geometry should be required of commercial students from 
now on; an elementary science course shoidd be expected of all but 
the college preparatory students; U.S. history should be necessary for 
graduation; segregation of students by ability should be introduced 
in mathematics. The faculty agreed that, whatever title they be given, 
these groups of students would exist— those intent on entering East- 
ern colleges; those concerned with general colleges, such as the state 
university; those in the practical arts; those in business; and "those 
who know not whence they go." Common courses for all these young- 
sters should be English, civics, elementary science, U.S. history, and 
physical education. As for the rest, "Think on these things." 

Not all the suggestions were followed the first year; confusion 
would have been too great, but the switches were striking enough to 
provoke considerable comment in the community. New courses like 
domestic science, news writing, and advanced composition were avail- 
able if enough students wanted them. (An interesting sidelight was 
that any student could be required to take penmanship if two of his 
teachers requested it.) A wholesale relabeling of curricula ensued. 
In 1928-29 there were classical, Latin scientific, science, history and 
English, modern language, art, music, manual training, and commer- 
cial coinses, with all but the last two requiring at least one year of 
Latin. In 1929-30, the labels were foreign language, social studies. 
College Board Examinations for Eastern colleges, general, fine arts, 
practical arts (woodworking and auto mechanics for boys, domestic 
science for girls), business, clerical, and stenographic. The last four 
required no Latin. Furthermore, the programs were divided broadly 
into college preparatory (the first four) and general (the last four). 

New coinses continued to appear with names like Advanced 
Homemaking and Problems of Democracy. Superior students in 
mathematics were able to complete one and one-half years' work in 
a single year and receive the extra half credit. What was termed a 
"program of enrichment" in the non-college fare went on apace. 
Some have been indicated in discussion of extra-curricular activities 
out of which they frequently grew. Others were hygiene, 4 Algebra, 
solid geometry, general art, and physiology. 

Experiments foreshadowing the "team teaching" of the 6o's were 
encouraged. In 1936, the midyear students were put in two sections 
of 120 each. On alternate days they met in room 364 for mass classes 
in literature and composition; the rest of the time they attended con- 
ventional small classes of 30 each. The purpose has a familiar ring: 
"to maintain a stricter economy and to test new educational theories." 

• 115- 


Such a class as "Problems of Everyday Living" was geared for the 
students who, under Boltwood and Beardsley, would never have 
reached the senior year. Its subject matter centered around living 
with others, earning a living, handling an income, and personal care. 
Students met for two consecutive 45-minute periods and earned two 
full credits toward graduation. In 1935 carpentry and drafting were 
offered, with each class member expected to spend three hours a day 
in the course for a total of four school periods and the rest of the 
school day in related work. The classes were heavily underwritten by 
the federal government under the Smith-Hughes Act; half the ex- 
penses were paid by Uncle Sam, making it feasible for the school to 
rebuild completely the shops in the summer of 1935, doubling the 
woodworking shop, installing a machine shop, offices, drafting, glu- 
ing and finishing rooms, and storage bins. 

Bacon had come to Evanston with the philosophy of meeting many 
individual needs of all kinds of students firmly entrenched, but he 
was also responding to a definite trend in high school enrollment 
which was not peculiar to Evanston in the go's and 40's. During the 
depression, enrollment went steadily up — in 1930-31, 3,077; in 1932- 
33, 3,124; in 1933-34. 3.340; in 1934-35. 3-479: and a peak of 3,541 in 
1935-36. No definite drop occurred until 1941-42, when the News- 
Index suggested that small families, high Evanston rents, and lack of 
housing facilities were playing a role. Until then, however, the school 
was bulging at the seams, particularly since more stayed to graduate 
than had ever done so before. In 1936, 654 received diplomas, in 1936, 
678 — or, to put it another way, in 1930 seniors were 14 per cent of the 
total enrollment; in 1940, 22 per cent. 

The depression which left full-grown men jobless was one reason 
for this phenomenon. Another was the increasing insistence by busi- 
nessmen that workers present a high school diploma. 


Chapter IX 
Changes in Curriculum 

EtHS became increasingly popular with young people 
because courses were no longer strictly college preparatory. Bacon 
had anticipated these trends from the day of his arrival. A progress 
report in the 1939-40 Annual Report reviewed the situation: 

Once the high school enrollment came largely, almost entirely, from 
those of the professional and managerial classes. These students for 
the most part were pointed definitely toward college. The few who 
came from elements of society other than those just indicated or who 
did not aspire to college were, for the greater part, young persons who 
had unusual qualities of persistence or marked mental ability or both. 
. . . Other pupils tended to drop out either during the first or second 
year of high school. Those who remained to graduate were highly 
selected by reason of their own interests and abilities and partly be- 
cause the curriculum of the day suited them peculiarly. . . . Mean- 
while, in the past twenty years Evanston, itself, has changed quietly 
but emphatically ... to become a self-sufficient city, rather typical. . . . 
A study of the student population in relation to the occupation of the 
parents discloses the following per cent: "Unskilled trades, 13.3; 
skilled trades, 15.6; professions, 15.2; managerial and executive, 15.9; 
various types of sales, 16.1; unclassified, 23.9." 

The same report goes on to explain the method Bacon chose to 
update the currioulum during the same period. He set up standing 
faculty committees on curriculum, welfare, measurement and evalua- 
tion, and created others as they were needed. Such groups verified 
what they had, of course, already known. Failure rates were extremely 
high at ETHS. It will be recalled that one foreign language teacher 
arrived in midyear to a schedule that was almost completely "fall- 
back," i.e., students who had failed once. They could not graduate 
until they succeeded in passing the work because first-year algebra 
and Latin were required for almost everybody and plane geometry 
was required for everyone. Inevitably many students left rather than 
attempt to pass work beyond their ability. (It will also be recalled 
that foreign language and college preparatory physics or chemistry 
were vital in all but two of the ten courses of study.) 

Bacon directed attention to the newly developing educational 
psychology of individual differences, "which suggested that not only 
abilities and interests varied among teenagers but that the high school 


had a duty to vary its offerings to suit these differences." The new 
principal stressed flexibility and shaping the school to fit the student. 
In his first decade at ETHS "new courses plus changes in old courses" 
totaled over 50. Among the basic ones so far unmentioned were divid- 
ing the commercial course into business for boys, clerical for girls, 
and stenographic for both boys and girls; the development of building 
trades and drafting as specialized vocational courses with related 
general courses like the increasing popular horticulture; the specially 
designed course for students planning to take College Board exami- 
nations; extension and reorganization of social studies in many ways; 
driver training and education. The story is completely told in a series 
of Annual Report messages beginning in 1937-38 with a revision of 
the English curriculum and continuing with mathematics, social 
studies, and industrial arts. In each of the revisions, specific efforts 
were made to provide for what were called "non-academic children 
. . . who plan no formal education beyond the high school," for special 
interests or those highly skilled in some fields (journalism for juniors, 
for example), and for "extension activities" which were not consid- 
ered "extra-curricular" but a "proof of the pudding." (A math club 
met monthly to hear speakers, work on famous mathematical prob- 
lems, or build polyhedron models.) 

On the whole, the community accepted these innovations, even in 
touchy 1933 when economy-minded critics across the country were 
attacking secondary education for its "fads and frills." A Review edi- 
torial demanded a "sane definition" of such frills, suggesting that 
"Present assailants . . . attack virtually all that has been added to the 
schools since that time when they prepared our forefathers for life in 
the simple pastoral days of a century ago . . . what are 'frills' for some 
pupils are necessities for others . . . and there are instances in which 
the revered fundamentals prove to be the flimsiest of frills." 

Mr. Kappelman, who had so stoutly criticized the curriculum in 
the final year of Beardsley's regime, broke into print again to report 
an "incredibly different study." He discovered that in 1938 only 44 
to 35 per cent of the enrollment was dropped along the way since the 
"Faculty has become failure conscious . . . Weekly tendencies are 
reported by teachers to student advisors and room directors." Bacon 
made a similar "state of the union" speech to the PTA that Novem- 
ber. The purpose of the high school, he reiterated, was to serve both 
the individual and the community with courses designed to meet 
varying needs; and there were at that time 87 different subjects open 
to students at ETHS. The staff was up to 132 full-time and twelve 
part-time teachers, with a total of 225 degrees, 81 per cent of those 
above the A.B. level. There were 89 men on the faculty. More than 
50 regular pupil organizations were in existence, and the class of '38 

. ii8- 


Changes in Curriculum 

had won 63 prize scholarships. Incidentally, he reported, in the past 
55 years ETHS had graduated about 7,700 students, more than 70 
per cent of whom entered college. 

He was not indifferent to the needs of this group, either. His Col- 
lege Club, originally a series of informal talks based on student ques- 
tions, had overflowed from a classroom into the school's Little The- 
ater and then into Social Hall 

A question some Evanstonians were asking, however, was about the 
college eligibility of students enrolled in the New School. This de- 
velopment of the curriculum engendered controversy from the year 
of its origin, 1937. "An experiment in reconstructing the curriculum," 
it was at first a cooperative project suggested by Northwestern School 
of Education, which contributed the services of Professor Samuel 
Everett as director, several instructors in the new "core studies," and 
certain other specialists. Everett had been a consultant in the Chicago 
school system, where he headed experimental curricula affecting ten 
schools. Evanstonians were originally most struck by his concept of 
"doing away with grades." A cross-section of 130 freshmen began in 
September, 1937, a program unified by a combined English-social 
studies class around which was grouped "special interest subjects" in 
general language, home and social relations, general mathematics, the 
arts, and "understanding people." Parents received no report cards, 
but written evaluations went home twice a semester. They included 
the core teacher's report, the pupil's own statement, and a third report 
by the special subject teachers. 

Under Everett, and under Dr. C. O. Arndt, who replaced him in 
1939, a "community approach to education" was stressed with spon- 
sors surveying all Evanston facilities, quizzing students with an inter- 
est inventory and creating from this double-barreled approach a sup- 
plementary program that, from the outset, drew heavily upon parent 
participation. With the graduation of the first 86 seniors to complete 
the program in June, 1941, Charles MacConnell, who served as home- 
room director of the semi-autonomous division, presented a progress 
report. He suggested that New School pupils showed "marked ini- 
tiative . . . with leadership more widely spread than in conventional 
groups." The program, which attracted national attention almost 
immediately, drew more than 1,000 visitors a year, all of whom agreed 
that the pupils "have developed unusual ease and ability in oral com- 
munication . . . (they) have experienced less tensions and less frus- 
tration, and consequently have less fear and resentment toward school 
than is frequently found among young people." 

One reason for that attitude was the virtual absence of "punishments 
or penalties" in New School; an elaborate system of personal guidance 
had been substituted. Another reason may have been the thorough- 

• 119- 


going system of student planning by which areas of work were chosen 
only after class agreement had been reached, particularly in the junior 
and senior groups. New Schoolers were said to have participated fully 
and successfully in all-school activities and to have succeeded in being 
admitted in college, with more receiving scholarships "than could 
have been reasonably expectd." 

The program continued to command parental support to the point 
that, in 1942, when World War II forced Northwestern to withdraw 
its support, ETHS decided to continue the program, although "sim- 
ply as one of the several curriculums of the school," and parents vol- 
unteered to pay special fees to help make it possible. 

In the more conventional school pattern, parents were also being 
encouraged to participate. Beginning in 1929 with a special dinner 
for midyear students' parents, Bacon expanded until regular "open 
house" receptions became an extensive system of personal conferences 
with teachers. The fiftieth jubilee was observed with demonstrations 
of block printing, of military drill, of a dramatization of a meeting 
of FDR's cabinet, and of a repetition of the girls' physical education 
department pageant. This pageant was written and directed by the 
same Miss Cutler who made it possible for the Washington trippers 
to meet Mrs. Roosevelt. An alumni reunion drew nearly 1,000 grad- 
uates and inspired Frederick Vose to organize a permanent alumni 
group; the organization became reality at Christmas, 1938. 

On another level Bacon introduced the practice of senior boys 
attending Rotary luncheons. At first, in 1931, he merely planned to 
take two boys from each assembly room until a representative group 
had gone. 

Parents were particularly interested in what was happening to the 
guidance system. The increasing size of the high school made counsel- 
ing more important. The key person in the first decade of Bacon's 
administration became the homeroom director, who was responsible, 
with a corps of teacher advisers, for the programs of pupils assigned 
to his assembly room. Both homerooms and the library began to col- 
lect vocational and college material. Nationally standardized tests of 
achievement and aptitude were introduced to make pupil class place- 
ment more scientific, and in January, 1940, a Dr. Ray Mars Simpson 
was appointed vocational guidance director at the school. The annual 
career conference at which experts in many fields describe opportu- 
nities for students apparently grew out of a series of vocational lec- 
tures sponsored in 1936 by local businessmen and women. Thirteen 
talks were offered to help students on career decisions. In 1938, the 
term Career Conference came into use, covering a program which in- 
cluded speakers in 30 fields, obtained after students expressed their 

♦ 120 • 

Cha)2ii^c's i)} Curriculmn 

interests in an all-school poll. Dinner was iollowed by meetings in 
classrooms and then a general assembly at 9:00 p.m. 

A "college colloquy" was listed in 1940 with 1 15 colleges registering 
for the first session Saturday morning. A second was set for Sunday 
afternoon. This conference was also an outgrowth of a much smaller 
meeting arranged by the Hi-Y. 

If students sometimes complained that it was difficult to find the 
busy teacher-counselor, the complaint was not taken very seriously 
in the pre-war period at least. The school seemed to be offering more 
and more services. There was the Book Room, for instance, started in 
the late 30's by the English Department, partly to cut costs for students 
and partly to make sure that more than a single text was available. 
For a quarter fee in 1942, pupils had the advantage of rotating sets 
of books; by 1943 other departments were anxious to join the system. 
There was a speech correction program which began humbly enough 
in 1931 with the Northwestern speech clinic testing to locate pupils 
needing remedial work. Soon a speech correctionist was employed 
part-time. There was a visual education program, broader now than 
the familiar field trips and slides; even motion pictures were being 
used with quite a respectable library of films being assembled at the 
school itself. In 1938 an all-school tuberculosis survey was made for 
the first time, carefully introduced by 12 doctors speaking in the 12 
home rooms about the Mantoux skin tests to be given at the end of 
March. (Only 28 per cent of those tested showed positive reactions, 
and of those 228, 209 were proved by X-rays to have normal chests.) 
There was a vigorous interscholastic sports program. 

There was, finally, to the satisfaction of parents of girls, a really 
good girls' gym program. Even before the new unit was added to the 
building. Miss Elfleda Maine had been expanding the program 
wherever she could. In 1925 she planned a restricted class for girls 
unable to enjoy full participation. A physician examined each "co-ed" 
and graded her "a" through "d," "a" qualifying her for brisk compe- 
tition and "d" certifying her for a rest period rather than gym. Miss 
Maine was strong for intensive posture training, and classes were 
lined up early in the year for tell-tale "silhouettegraphs," which mer- 
cilessly showed up tendencies toward knock knees or sloping shoul- 
ders. During the year corrective exercises were scheduled, and then 
new photographs were taken which showed, the school newspaper 
observed slyly, that the girls at least had learned how to pose for the 

In each class a "captain" was named to take roll, aid in discipline, 
and present new material. Soon called the leaders' corps, this group 
saved on teacher personnel during the tricky depression period and 


was retained because of its popularity with the girls after economy 
was no longer necessary. In 1929, though, only 48 per cent of the girls 
participated in gym since juniors and seniors were not to take the 
course. Sports carnivals of area high schools proved "very pleasant 
social get-togethers," and an annual evening demonstration was al- 
ready traditional. The 1929 exhibition included a grand march and 
a willow wand drill. 

By 1931, three years of gym were required, but on alternate days 
only. After-school participation was increasing, however, with the ex- 
panded facilities, the Girls' Athletic Association's active planning, 
and such innovations as tap and interpretive dancing. By 1940, the 
Board of Education had added a compulsory fourth year of gym, com- 
plying with a state ruling which dated almost a decade back but had 
been impossible to enforce during depression stringencies. 

Evanstonians were also interested in the results of the National 
Cooperative Study sponsored by the North Central Association of 
Colleges and Secondary Schools. From approximately 27,000 possi- 
bilities, 200 high schools were chosen for an intensive three-year study. 
ETHS was one of them, and that, the town felt, was as it should be. 
The local staff compiled many detailed reports on the school's opera- 
tions, a cross-section of pupils took standardized tests, questionnaires 
were mailed a similar cross-section of parents and alumni, and a five- 
man committee sent from Washington, D.C., spent three days in- 
specting the schools. On criteria developed nationally, ETHS made 
a top ranking, within the highest 25 per cent on the grand total of all 
items. Curriculum, pupil activities, guidance, instruction, outcomes, 
staff, plant, and administration were all ranked "very superior." If a 
weakness was observed, it was in the absence of a full-time guidance 
staff, but high praise for teacher class planning and pupil-teacher 
relations seemed to balance off that defect. 


Chapter X 
Personalities of the 30's and Early 40's 

Xeachers in ETHS during the 1930's included people 
like Miss Alene Williams, the world traveler who in 1934 chose the 
Iraq-Syria area for her summer vacation. Toting with her a beloved 
old box camera and a native guide, she traveled far enough off the 
regular tourist routes to take some pleasing shots of ancient build- 
ings. Enroute to the northern Mediterranean and her beloved Athens 
— Miss Williams taught Latin — she encountered a saddened British 
architectural expert. He too had traveled her route, gathering mate- 
rial for a scholarly article on the same structures Miss Williams had 
photographed. But his camera, alas, had broken. The upshot of the 
matter was that the intrepid Miss Williams lent him her pictures, 
which duly appeared, with credit line, in a professional magazine 
that printed the architect's article. After 27 years of teaching and trav- 
eling. Miss Williams left her favorite models to the Roman Room, 
retired in 1942, and married the very Kaissaroff who had done those 
Patten Room murals. 

The Foreign Language Department produced more than its share 
of interesting teachers. Imperator of the Roman Room was the 
George Whipple who feuded annually with homeroom 124 in the 
magazine subscription campaign. His students recalled him as an 
"imposing figure . . . truly Roman . . . book in one hand, chalk in the 
other, striding back and forth before our upturned faces declaiming 
'Arma Virumque cano,' making us feel the sonorous beauty of the 
Latin . . . He was not a soft man who would allow his deep under- 
standing of boys and girls to impair his efforts to bring them safely 
through the pitfalls of Caesar or Ovid." With his glasses, straight 
"Roman" nose, and characteristically neat moustache, he was "adored 
by his students," once calculated at nearly 4,000 in the 20 years he 
spent at ETHS. (All told, he taught 38 years, coming here from private 
schools after his graduation "magna cum laude" from Harvard.) 
It was Mr. Whipple who carved the aper umber — yellow bear to non- 
initiates — at the Latin Banquet, and he too who was suitably crowned 
with a laurel wreath on his and Vergil's birthday anniversary in 1936. 

A homeroom director for freshmen and sophomores was Miss 
Elizabeth Grimsley, who in 1936 rather lamented the passing of three 
years of Greek from the high school curriculum but no longer be- 
lieved as she had when she began teaching 36 years before that every- 

• 123- 


one should study Latin and graduate from college. "I think there are 
a great many people — the majority — for whom neither was intended," 
she declared and added praise for the "clear-sighted poise" of the 
young people emerging from the depression. 

Not every teacher to play a part in ETHS development stayed three 
decades. John Tate Riddell, the first athletic director who juggled 
mathematics classes and football coaching from September, 1913, till 
1927, was still well remembered when he died in July, 1945. Not only 
had he formed freshman-sophomore divisions in both football and 
basketball, but he led the varsity teams to state championships in 
1925 and 1926. In his spare time he was at work on a conical-shaped 
detachable football cleat. By 1927, it was so popular that he left the 
school to make all sorts of shoes: baseball, golf, track, basketball. All 
told, he worked out between 50 and 60 patented inventions, many of 
them safety geared like the plastic football helmet that was adapted 
for use by paratroopers during World War II. What kept important 
to ETHS, however, was that he liked to try out his products before 
putting them on the market. What more natural than to use ETHS 
as a laboratory? As a result the athletic team received much equip- 
ment at practically no expense. A gift of 90 basketballs was routine 
if he happened to be experimenting with a new molded model. 

Community figures loomed equally large in ETHS development 
during this period. Mrs. Patten, the widow of the "immensely 
wealthy" wheat king, was one of the last of the great lady philanthro- 
pists. From the days when she worked to support Beardsley's choice 
of site to her death in 1935, she was unfailingly generous. Her gifts to 
the school ranged from a fine harp for the music department to furni- 
ture for the women teachers' second-floor restroom; but she also found 
ways to help individual students in need and was one of the largest 
purchasers of tax warrants during perilous depression days. 

William Eastman, Board president during the same period, gave 
even more in terms of direct service. When he resigned from the Board 
in 1933 after 14 years, it was noted that he "had directed the school 
through its greatest period of growth . . . (and) through recent trou- 
blous times." A dinner in his honor was being planned the morning 
he came to ETHS to discuss finances with Bacon. He had been a little 
ill — his own printing business was going badly — and the bad spell 
returned as he was getting out of his car. Helped into the building, he 
protested that he was all right but allowed himself to be taken to the 
health unit where he lapsed into a coma and died. "It is poignantly 
sad," an Evanston Review editorial observed, "and at the same time 
most fitting that he should have died in the midst of the scene of his 
greatest and best loved labors . . . both literally and figuratively he 
gave his life at ETHS." 

• 124 • 

Personalities of the 30's and Early -tO's 

Men such as Mr. Eastman kept a close tie between the school and 
the community so that early Red scares were dismissed by an Evanston 
that was sure of its teachers. The first issue was a teachers' loyalty 
oath which involved an official promise to protect the state constitu- 
tion. Two years later a "red rider" made it possible for the comptroller 
of the United States to cancel salaries of any teachers who mentioned 
communism in class. The innocuous social studies newspaper, The 
American Obsen/er, was then accused of making classrooms a "sanc- 
tuary for red discussion" when it printed a factual article describing 
the operations of the communist state in Russia. "A lot of nonsense," 
said the Reinexo. 

A more serious threat on the horizon in those days aroused Evans- 
ton even less. True, Bernard Mattson initiated in 1940 a course on the 
background of the "present European war and prospects for the post- 
war period." But the course was offered only in night school. Some 
refugees had arrived in Evanston, mostly English and Scotch young- 
sters. And by January, 1941, dessertless Mondays were being tried. 
The thought was that students would contribute their dessert money 
to Greek relief, and a sum of I400 was soon raised by this and other 
methods. However, in May, 1941, 82 per cent of ETHS students voted 
against U.S. entrance into war. 

They were really more concerned with realities like examinations. 
The era of the Bluebook Dominant was passing. In the early go's, 
each teacher had used the bluebook — and each in a different way, 
according to an Evaristonian article which reported a freshman's first 
encounter with the azure horrors. In his first period class, the ninth- 
grader watched his teacher brandish one and jest, "Here is a blue- 
book, and it will probably make you quite blue Friday at 8:30. Now 
skip the first page entirely, use the left-hand pages only, and put one 
problem alone on a page even if it takes up only two lines. Use your 
right-hand pages for scratch work and do all your work in pencil." 
From this algebra teacher, the freshman worked his way through the 
day to the tune of varying instructions ("Use every page, and begin 
your scratch work from the rear, turning the book upside down . . . 
Use ink . . ."). With the Bacon stress on standardized tests, the blue- 
book menace decreased; so had the college terror, for the moment. 
In 1939, a definite trend away from Eastern colleges and toward 
Middle West institutions was recorded in the Annual Report. Dart- 
mouth, once fifth in total attendance, now was thirteenth, and Prince- 
ton wasn't even on the list of 50 colleges most favored . 

The faculty, perhaps alerted by Mr. Bacon, was less oblivious to 
war threats. In 1940 a defense committee with a representative from 
each department had been formed "to encourage scrutiny" of courses 
to see what adjustments should be made. Health and physical educa- 

• 125- 


tion responded first, draft rejections giving national publicity to the 
lack of physical fitness among American youth. Physical examina- 
tions were followed by a cooperative plan with Evanston dentists and 
doctors to correct the defects discovered among ETHS athletic team 
members and the MTC Corps. A student nutrition committee wrote 
parents about proper diet. Body building exercises and intramural 
athletics took the spotlight in physical education courses with a spe- 
cial steeplechase course going up on the athletic course to "toughen 
up muscular skills and stamina." Furthermore, juniors and seniors 
must now take gym every day. Home nursing and first aid courses were 
to be required in 1942, social studies stressed contemporary events, 
mathematics was regarded to provide foundation material basic to 
navigation and gunnery, a special aeronautics ground course worked 
its way from summer school into the regular year's course offerings. 
With wartime demands for labor, work experience courses were 
pushed so that students could go both to school and to a job. Evans- 
ton luncheon clubs cooperated in the program; 37 seniors had al- 
ready received credit toward graduation by such a combination of 
work and school in June, 1942. 

Students really felt the pinch now. Failing upperclassmen were 
reassigned to pre-induction courses like refresher math, radio theory, 
and global geography. Soon plans were set up to accelerate the high 
school programs of all boys. In March, 1943, over 50 seniors were 
permitted to leave school early so that they could enter service train- 
ing. Special army and navy tests were given at the school for boys 
who wanted to enter the specialized college training programs. Not so 
many responded to the lure of easy wartime jobs by dropping out of 

Meanwhile a student war activities commission — soon to be re- 
christened the ETHS Victory Corps — "mobilized students for war." 
War meant a book drive (4,782 collected in 1941-42 for the United 
Services Organization); sale of War Stamps ($10,000 worth the same 
year); drives for the Red Cross, for old paper, for scrap, even for decks 
of cards; and finally for a service flag to record the teachers and stu- 
dents who went off to die. Junior air raid wardens, 880 of them, were 
trained to assist the block wardens; the girls formed Cap and Cape 
Club, for would-be nurses, and matched the now extremely active 
military corps with their own drill corps. 

Summer school in 1943 held two sessions for the first time with an 
enrollment of 1,136 as compared to 1939's 700. The Annual Report 
described this all-round plant operation as offering "a much more 
desirable balance of educational offerings and activities," one that 
might be retained in days of peace. Meanwhile, the Victory Corps 
was undertaking a guidance function. Students enrolled in the group 

• 126 • 

Personalities of the 30's and Early 40's 

elected one branch of service as a special interest, and the corps then 
provided guidance within the regular curriculum, making it easy 
for the senior to graduate early and with courses which would make 
his future service training quicker. To the Career Conference was 
added an afternoon session "devoted entirely to war services." The 
service flag was supplemented by an enormous honor-roll plaque, 
mahogany-framed and built in the woodworking shops. Commercial 
classes typed on individual blocks the over 4,000 ETHS names re- 

To Evanston returned the James Kirkpatricks after a year in Hono- 
lulu where he had been an exchange teacher. He and his wife had 
thought the Pearl Harbor attack "an unusually realistic dress per- 
formance drill," as they sat at breakfast on "a beautiful, peaceful day." 
He remembered very well the stunned expressions of his Japanese 
students as they returned to school; with the rest of the faculty he 
helped enumerate and fingerprint all of these suddenly suspected per- 
sons, served as an air raid warden, and left on a troopship as all 
women and children were being evacuated for the mountains. He 
knew something dangerous was coming. It turned out to be the Battle 
of Midway. 

The ETHS staff was busy at extra war duties, too, registering the 
population for sugar ration books and meat ration books. Secretaries 
were disappearing from the office for assignments in the WAVES and 
the WACS, school nurses vanished into the Red Cross, the teacher 
turnover was never greater — 19 new ones in 1943 alone, Mr. Bacon 
reported unbelievingly. There were bus problems again, and students 
were asked to walk to school, to ride bikes, to form motor pools, at 
least to keep off the buses during rush hours. The woodcarving class, 
still busy at war duties, had constructed nearly two thousand model 
airplanes to exact wartime specifications; the black-painted models 
would be used by the Navy to train its men to differentiate immedi- 
ately between friendly and enemy aircraft. Night school had ten spe- 
cial war courses ranging from meteorology and marksmanship to 
blueprint reading. 

As the war finally neared an end, a 23-year-old physicist who was 
proud of the training ETHS had given him, wrote his mother about 
two years of secret work under Enrico Fermi of the University of Chi- 
cago. Edwin Bragdon was at Los Alamos now where a "tremendous 
effort" was being made, but he could still say very little about his 
part in developing the atomic bomb that was to end the war. 

• 127 • 

Chapter XI 
The Post -War Years 

In 1944 a curriculum problems discussion group of fac- 
ulty members began to consider post-war programs at the high school. 
The proposals that were soon to be implemented were that the school 
prepare itself to meet state regulations by offering physical education 
to every student every day and that serious attention be paid to the 
need for "more adequate shop and vocation opportunities." Just three 
months before Pearl Harbor the needs of the industrial arts had been 
presented in the Annual Report. The chairman pointed out that 
general shop, the introductory course, was restricted in scope because 
"the limitations of our own shop make it necessary to use wood." 
Only a short unit in elementary electricity and general metal was 
possible for a small number of students. Mechanical drawing was 
handicapped by the lack of "suitable closet or storage space ... in- 
sufficient locker accommodations . . . enough reference books . . . 
obsolete equipment." The wooden building that once housed the 
cafeteria now held both woodshop and the military training corps. 
With the addition of the building trades course under the Smith- 
Hughes Act the wood shop had been divided in two with "consider- 
able crowding" as a natural result. Much of the equipment, like 
benches, tools, and power machines, was the same purchased for use 
in the old school building when the courses were first initiated. "In 
view of these things," the chairman had ended, "it would seem not 
inappropriate to suggest that the educational program of Evanston 
Township High School should look forward to a new building of 
fireproof construction to house a group of modern shops and also to 
anticipate an enlarged industrial arts program to include several sub- 
jects not now offered. It may be that the time is not propitious. . . ." 
It was not, of course, in 1941, but Bacon was hardly the man to 
forget the need. In a letter written before America formally entered 
the war, he had gone so far as to suggest a trade school for boys and 
girls from 16 to 20 years old. While some of the students would finish 
at the end of the conventional 12 years, others would stay for ad- 
vanced training or just to complete the course. He saw to it that the 
public was reminded of the industrial arts aspect of education in such 
publications as the large, handsomely illustrated brochure Here's 
Your High School, edited by Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Shanks and fi- 
nanced by the PTA. Mailed to every parent and to many other in- 

• 128' 

The Post-War Years 

fluential persons, the public relations booklet included in its open- 
ing pages photographs of boys at work in aeronautics and building 
classes and praised "hands that will design buildings, hands that will 
raise buildings, hands that will work within the buildings. . . . The 
high school is not merely a production line for academic super- 
models." Through the Post-war Planning Committee, renamed the 
Educational Policies Committee and expanded to include parents 
and faculty representatives from Districts 75 and 76, the need for 
better shop facilities was again stressed. By 1946-47, the suggestion 
had evolved into a plan for a special technical building for shop, art, 
and crafts, and in April, 1948, the community voted strongly in favor 
of a $1,600,000 bond issue for such additions. Proposals for a field- 
house and extra gym facilities to take care of the state regulations for 
daily physical education were also covered by the issue. Even the 
long awaited steel and concrete football stand was guaranteed at last. 

Years before ground was broken for any of these structures, how- 
ever, the problem of returning veterans had to be faced. Colleges 
which gave them preference were bulging with the heavy enrollment 
which included many who could never have considered higher educa- 
tion without the G.I. "bill of rights." Therefore, seniors just coming 
out of high school were being shunted aside by harassed college 
entrance officials. With the closing down of much war industry, jobs 
were not readily open to these students, either. One answer seemed 
to be a two-year Community College. Early discussions termed it a 
Veterans Institute to be set up as a division of night school, but by 
June, 1946, day classes were seen as necessary too. In the graduating 
class of that June, 200 were interested in registering at the low $100 
a semester tuition fees, and next fall a staff of 22 teachers, many bor- 
rowed from the high school, was headed by Dr. William Wood. He 
had returned from more than two years as navy educational service 
officer. The Community College program concentrated on academic 
courses, since students were uninterested in other curricula. The two- 
year course could be a terminal one, or students could then plan to 
transfer to a four-year college. 

Other post-war plans were less concrete. They included a request 
for a division of educational experimentation and research headed by 
a full-time director, for a yearly educational clinic, for several experi- 
mental groups to serve as laboratories for the school. A group of 308 
seniors was involved in a carefully planned study of guidance tech- 
niques. Mr. Paul Young reported that personal interviews and ques- 
tionnaires uncovered pupil problems at the experimental group. Its 
members were then encouraged to take a battery of 15 to 30 tests. 
Results of the tests were interpreted to the students who were "en- 
couraged to make at least three plans for life work." An outgrowth of 

• 129* 


this effort was the creation of 46 Career Study Clubs, most of them 
meeting at the business or professional office under study. The Ki- 
wanis Club provided the trained adult leaders to interpret the occu- 
pational aspects of the fields about which juniors and seniors had 

Special help for another group of students was being expanded 
during the same period. Physically handicapped pupils were given 
special programs suited to their needs, and visiting teachers for home- 
bound students were obtained. 

Other reflections of a changing American community were re- 
ported in the annual summing up. With the arrival of "a new F.M. 
station, WEAW, and a bit later the A.M. station, WMNP, interests 
in the educational relationship of radio were greatly increased." 
ETHS was linked by direct cable to WEAW so that special events — 
the music festival, for instance, and graduation exercises — could be 
broadcast. A weekly Friday program gave departments a chance to 
explain their curricula, and a new club, Mike Masters, sprang up. 
Early in 1948, the PTA voted $1,000 toward setting up a radio station 
in the school on the fourth floor. 

Meanwhile, the "Work-Study Plan," which had been accelerated 
by wartime conditions, was moved to the Community College. With 
the help of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, students earned part 
or all of their college expenses by working a maximum of 30 hours 
a week in local business or industry. 

The magazine campaign can be used to illustrate the staying power 
of many of Bacon's "innovations." Begun in 1935 as the depression 
lightened, "Curtis Week" provided a little money for school activi- 
ties and more for an athletic stadium. At the end of the seven-day 
campaign, students had sold $932 worth of subscriptions, $450 of that 
money returning to the school. In 1936 receipts more than tripled, and 
the range of magazines offered was broadened. By 1941, fulltime help 
was required to keep records in the campaign; indeed the student 
activities office grew partly out of this expansion. In Bacon's last full 
year as superintendent, the campaign involved 84.2 per cent of the 
students and brought it over $16,000 for distribution to school ac- 

In a now established policy the school continued to interpret care- 
fully to the public the reasons for such activities. Indeed, in the fall 
of 1947, a public relations committee was created to coordinate the 
program. The demands of the bond issue probably suggested such a 
move, for special letters and cards stressing the need of the building 
additions were sent the public, the staff blanketed civic groups with 
speeches, and the students themselves were not overlooked. Talks in 

• 130- 

The Post-War Years 

the homerooms and the Community College were supplemented by 
radio broadcasts. 

In The Evanstonian, too, a long front-page article dealt with "the 
scale model of a dream ... a group of buildings which will, one by 
one, provide education for 3,700 young Evanstonians of the class of 
i960." The student reporter explained the architect's model on dis- 
play in Bacon's conference room and ended by quoting the principal, 
"Right now everything's still pretty tentative, but with hard, careful 
work we'll do it." 

He was gone from Evanston, however, before the additions were 
dedicated. His career continued long after January, 1948, of course. 
His professional activity did not stop until six months before his death 
on January 20, 1958. That half year of illness culminated in an un- 
successful operation for brain tumor. At the time of his death, the 
National Association of Secondary School Principals indicated the 
scope of his influence beyond ETHS in an official statement lauding 
his "significant, impressive, and abiding" contributions to secondary 
education which "will continue to leave an impressive mark . . . His 
life's work will always be characterized as purposeful, noble, and 

But his role in ETHS affairs ended when he headed for California 
in January, 1948, leaving the new principal with the task of com- 
pleting the building. 

• 13' • 

Chapter XII 
Mr. Michael Becomes Principal 

Lloyd styers michael became ETHS's fourth prin- 
cipal after a search that had lasted a year, according to one Board 
member. Mr. Bacon, understandably, had at first considered a young 
man particularly suitable. He intended to stay at least one semester in 
a consultant capacity at the high school — to ease the transition period. 
However, the first 20 interviews convinced the Board that no younger 
man would quite suit the position and the community. The choice 
finally made was 45-year-old Lloyd Styers Michael, said to be the 
sixtieth candidate considered. He was then principal of Garden City 
(New York) High School, a suburb resembling Evanston in many 
ways. Like Bacon, he was already known in national secondary educa- 
tion circles. He had been since 1942 a part-time lecturer in school 
administration and secondary education at New York University. He 
was a member of the advisory council of the New York State Depart- 
ment of Education and on the executive board of the National As- 
sociation of Secondary School Principals. 

Mr. Michael was born Jime 23, 1903, at Mount Vernon, Ohio, to 
Clyde Scott and Bertha Dee Styers Michael. He received his bachelor 
of philosophy degree from Denison (Ohio) University in 1925, and 
his master of arts degree from the same school the following year. 
He then taught history and public speaking at Parkersburg (West 
Virginia) High School for three years, leaving the classroom in 1929 
to become assistant principal. By 1931 he was principal of the high 
school, and from 1935 to 1939 he served as supervising principal both 
of the junior and senior high schools there. He enrolled in the gradu- 
ate school at NYU and was granted a doctorate in education in 1941, 
the same year he became principal of Nott Terrace High School, 
Schenectady, N.Y. Three years later, he moved to Garden City, and 
in 1946 he married Mary Catherine Wilhelmine Griffith. 

With that record, the Board doubtless anticipated that he would 
keep abreast of educational trends and serve to keep ETHS a national 
leader in secondary education. In this expectation, the Board was 
quite correct; this history extends through the first 75 years of the 
high school's history, which includes only the first decade of Dr. 
Michael's service to Evanston, but the pattern becomes evident early. 
He continued to lecture during summer sessions at NYU in 1943 
and again in 1948; at the University of Colorado in 1951 and 1952; at 

• 132* 

Llovd Michafx 
Fourth and Current Principal of E.T.H.S. 

• 133- 


Colorado Teachers College in 1953 and 1954; at Harvard in 1955, 
1956, and 1957; and at Stanford in 1959. He was a member of the 
joint committee on health problems of the National Education As- 
sociation and the American Medical Association; and of the North 
Central Committee on Colleges (from 1952-1955). He became a di- 
rector of the College Entrance Examinations Board in 1956 and was 
from 1951 through 1957 a trustee of the Joint Council of Economic 
Education. In 1957 he became chairman of the Illinois Scholarship 
Commission, and in the same year he also became chairman of the 
Commission for Experimental Study of the Utilization of Staff in 
Secondary Education. He was also a trustee of the executive com- 
mittee of the Council for the Advancement of Secondary Education; 
a trustee of his alma mater, Denison, beginning in 1959; a director 
of the Educational Television and Radio Center and the National 
Merit Scholarship Program. 

Four honorary degrees, an LL.D. in 1952 from Northwestern, an 
L.H.D. and a D.P.S. in 1959 from Union College and Denison 
University respectively, and a Lit.D. in 1961 from Parsons College, 
were conferred upon him. 

He also found time to serve as a director of the Evanston Family 
Service Association, a board member of the Evanston Council of Boy 
Scouts, a director of the Evanston Rotary Club and of the Evanston 
Chamber of Commerce. 

Back in 1948, when he moved to the outer office — Mr. Bacon re- 
tained space in the inner conference room for the first semester — his 
first job was to familiarize himself with the building program. 

The Board had already decided to allot approximately $870,000 
of the $1,600,000 bond issue to build new gymnasia parallel to the old 
gym and facing east and a fieldhouse adjoining these structures on the 
west. The fieldhouse would seat between 500 and 1,000 spectators 
for indoor track events and be suitable for the then still existing 
military training corps. Architects Perkins and Will had decided less 
about the technical arts wing which would extend from the cafeteria 
to complete the south side of the South Court quadrangle. It would, 
however, be a "long, low building" to house woodworking, building 
trades, printing, and general shops. Facilities for arts and crafts, 
metals, welding, and a new home arts laboratory, photography and 
audio-visual work were also envisioned. Even a student lounge was a 

The football grandstand had been "on order" since 1946, when 
steel shortages halted all plans. It was the first of the structures to be 
completed. Erected north of Church Street on a square block of land 
bounded by Lemar Avenue on the west. Hartley on the east, and 
Lyons on the north, it held 4,200 seats in a reinforced steel structure 

• 134- 

Mr. Michael Becomes Principal 

on the west side ol the field. Temporary wooden bleachers seated 
1,200 on the east. The site, of course, was the lo-acre plot purchased 
by the Board several years earlier. Formal dedication ceremonies for 
the stadium, named Memorial Field in honor of ETHS war dead, 
were held October 8, 1949. 

By May, 1950, four new gyms — three for boys and one for girls — 
were in use. It was now possible to require daily physical education 
for every student in comjiliance with state law. September saw the 
$365,000 fieldhouse near completion. In the March dedication, a set 
of athletic exhibitions ranging from speedball by the girls and relay 
races by the boys to a precision drill demonstration by the military 
training corps rifle team were followed by more formal ceremonies. 
ETHS now had nine gymnasia, a ten-lap fieldhouse, a 26-acre play 
and practice field, ten tennis courts, three handball courts, a wrestling 
room, four bowling alleys, a 440-yard track, and a lo-acre field com- 
plete with football stadium. 

In the nine gymnasia were 23 badminton courts and 46 baskets 
for basketball. In the apparatus gym were two parallel bars, two 
horses, one horizontal bar, one trampoline, one diving board, five 
climbing ropes, and a large number of tumbling mats. In the field- 
house were a batting cage for baseball, three driving nets for golf, 
two full-sized tennis courts, the much-mentioned lo-lap track, and 
jumping pits. W^ith a teacher station for every 350 students, ETHS 
was one of the few large schools in the United States to satisfy recom- 
mendations of the American Association for Health, Physical Edu- 
cation, and Recreation. 

Intramural programs for boys and girls expanded, the boys' pro- 
gram f:)rganized under Quadrangle with all-school Field Day an an- 
nual highlight, and the girls arranging extra playing times through 
the Girls' Athletic Association, which was itself divided into 13 in- 
dividual sports clubs to meet special interests as diversified as riding 
and riflery. Furthermore, a one-semester course in health education 
was required of all juniors. The school had moved a long way from 
the early 1900's when a female teacher was assigned to a "dressing 
room" to give an ailing girl a headache tablet as the need arose. As 
early as 1930, a full-time nurse had been employed; in 1951, the 
school had two full-time public health nurses, two part-time physi- 
cians, and a part-time secretary. The remedial program had spread 
from an effort to locate tuberculosis to a much wider system of physi- 
cal examinations. In September were examined all new students, all 
who had no record of physical checkups for two years, all boys in 
interscholastic sports, and all who had been assigned limited physical 
activity programs the preceding year. 

Indeed, in what would have been termed the "physical fitness pro- 

• 135- 


gram" in World War II days, only a swimming pool was lacking. 
Boys still borrowed 'Y' facilities and captured Suburban League hon- 
ors often enough to make Evanstonians drag their feet about what 
was still a controversial issue. 

Last of the additions to be completed was the technical arts wing 
which was finally opened to the public for inspection April 30 and 
May 1, 1951. Visitors saw an L-shaped wing joining the main building 
at the south end. Laboratories for metals, woods (two shops), graphic 
arts, and two mechanical drawing rooms were ready for fall classes. 
An area for an electricity shop was still in progress of development 
in the fall of 1951, but auto mechanics remained in the separate build- 
ing in the parking lot. On the second floor, not far from the mechani- 
cal drawing rooms, was a large-purpose classroom equipped with 
facilities to demonstrate retail selling. The work-study plan had 
grown from a war measure to a Community College project and was 
on its way to becoming a distributive education program open to 
carefully selected upperclassmen. 

Facing the industrial workshops on the first floor was an art unit: 
three general art rooms, a craft room, a ceramics room, and supple- 
mentary areas like the kiln and damp rooms, the material and supply 
room, and the instructor's offices. The principle carefully followed 
in the room arrangement was that "the technical arts wing is an ad- 
dition . . . built into rather than onto the rest of the school." To 
further emphasize this integral nature of the new wing, three areas 
were included that were clearly for general rather than departmental 
use. One was the audio-visual center, soon dubbed the Little Theater 
because it seated 150 and included a small stage suitable for showing 
educational movies. For a time it served as a suitable center for 
faculty meetings, too. On the second floor was a photographic center 
with studio-classroom, extensive darkroom, and two workrooms. 
Much larger, however, was the student lounge, a spacious 102 feet 
long, with accordion-type partitions available to separate it into 
three meeting rooms. Adjacent to it was a faculty lounge. 

General features of the new wing included extensive use of fluores- 
cent lighting, ceilings constructed of sound-absorbing materials, and 
the handsome provision for display in the main corridor on the first 
floor. From a height of three feet to the ceiling, the wall area was 
made either of a special cloth-covered mounting board or display 

The origin of the printing department deserves special mention. 
Plans had been made for it as early as the 1928-30 early expansion 
period, but the depression put a stop to that. Then in the winter of 
1947-48, a local businessman who owned a printing shop offered 
to furnish equipment for a class or two in printing. Fifteen students 

• 136* 

Mr. Michael Becomes Principal 

During 1950-51 a technical-arts wing, beyond the pool, was added to the 
cafeteria wing at the east to join the main building and to form an enclosed 
South Court, shown above. 

attended the two single-period classes that were established, and dur- 
ing the spring term the vocational building trades classes remodeled a 
temporary building to house the print shop, which measured 29 by 41 
feet and could now accommodate two double-period classes in print- 

The new technical arts wing provided much more ample quarters 
and improved facilities. Indeed, it looked to the community visitors 
invited to inspect the new section as if ETHS must be done with its 
building program for years to come. True, there were no swimming 
pools nor was there an auditorium, but the school had done so well 
so long without them that only newcomers to the community really 
noticed the lack. Enrollment had dropped from the heavy depression 
figures so that, in the fall of 1948, one big assembly room, 304, had 
been closed. At the beginning of 1951, 324 dropped out of use as 
Community College's center. 

Evanston apparently did not want a permanent public junior col- 
lege. At any rate, the college reached its peak enrollment in 1949 

• 137- 


with 311 students and dipped below the 100 mark in 1951-52. The 
college was now too small to operate successfully. Some courses were 
transferred to the adult education program in night school, and the 
college reverted to "a stand-by state." It had served adults needing 
advanced training or wishing to follow up hobbies and special inter- 
ests; the high school graduate who required one or two years of 
special training for a job in industry or merchandising; and the high 
school graduate who wanted a college degree but needed to stay at 
home for the first two years of study. During its six years, the college 
graduated 214 students out of a total enrollment of 937; 143 of those 
graduates completed a program at other colleges. Incidentally, ap- 
proximately 70 per cent of the total enrollment was from veterans 
of World War II. 

Another school program was being re-evaluated. It was the widely- 
publicized New School, which had long operated from room 364. 
In May, 1949, a committee including two principals of Chicago area 
schools, a University of Chicago school of education expert, the par- 
ent of a New School student, and two ETHS staff members spent 
two days visiting the classes. New School self-evaluations and confer- 
ences with its staff and students were also studied. The group praised 
New School's "friendly and genuinely cordial relationships among 
students, parents, and teachers," the poise and ability students showed 
in oral reports and group activities, and their effective participation 
in work planning. However, the committee suggested a need for more 
varied teaching techniques, particularly in the writing areas. 

Meanwhile, Paul Jones was working out a variation of the core 
program called Unified Studies, in which social studies and English 
were combined in a two-period class. Panels, discussion groups, and 
debates still substituted for a teacher-dominated situation. By 1952, 
New School as a semi-autonomous unit had disappeared with 364 
becoming a routine homeroom. In a move to identify core students 
more closely with the rest of the school, core was combined with 
Unified Studies, the class Paul Jones had taught. An important differ- 
ence between core and unified studies was that no class could outvote 
its teacher in planning work. Because the new core-unified program 
combined some of the aspects of both courses, it was labeled Com- 
bined Studies. 

The tech-arts wing had, of course, made new courses available; 
seven were announced the first year it opened, among them work in 
salesmanship and merchandising. An outgrowth of this work, perhaps, 
was a special training program for students and others wishing to 
take jobs during the holiday season. A ten-hour intensive course, it 
was taken by 41 students in its first year, 1952. Leading Evanston 
stores had suggested the program; students who completed it received 


Mr. Michael Becomes Principal 

certificates which entitled them to special consideration when they 
applied for jobs. Speech in its new laboratory on the third floor of 
the cafeteria wing, and the Home Economics Department, now fresh- 
ly located on the third floor, were also expanding. 

But another emphasis was also becoming apparent that Christ- 
mas season. Mr. Michael was on the central committee of a cooperative 
study financed by the Ford Foundation for the Advancement of Edu- 
cation to consider establishing special high school courses that would 
be accredited toward a college degree. In December, local newspapers 
reported that two other staff members were working on the study — 
Miss Nadine Clark, chairman of the social studies department, and 
William Jones, chairman of the science department. In June it was 
revealed that ETHS had been named one of seven pilot schools to 
experiment with college-level courses. Seventy seniors were scheduled 
to enroll in one or more of five courses offered in English, in European 
History, in French, in Spanish, and in mathematics. Originally co- 
operating in the study were 12 colleges — Kenyon, Oberlin, Brown, 
Middlebury, Williams, Bowdoin, Swarthmore, Connecticut Wes- 
leyan, Wabash, Carleton, Haverford, and Massachusetts Institute of 
Technology. The courses were intended to make it possible for highly 
gifted students both to enrich their programs and to shorten the time 
of lengthy professional training. That second goal was particularly 
intended for boys who would have to plan on military service. 

At the end of the first year students generally agreed, "I have never 
learned so much in my life." They took special examinations, some 
of them composed by college committees, and scores on these exams 
plus teacher evaluation of the year's work were sent on to the col- 
leges to determine the amount of credit each student would be 

Somewhat analogous plans for the faculty were instituted in 1952. 
One was the sixth-year program of professional training to encourage 
training beyond the master's degree. Staff members were to acquire 
sixth-year status either by completing 30 semester hours of work sig- 
nificant to their teaching, or by offering 20 hours plus another ten that 
included such activities as travel, workshop participation, and in- 
dividual research leading to textbook authorship, writing, and lectur- 

The other plan set up "professional growth years" at the end of 
which teachers were carefully evaluated by department chairmen. 
Those staff members who showed satisfactory improvement in teach- 
ing received salary increments which, by the end of 15 years, should 
have doubled the starting salary. 

A third program directly affected parents. At the suggestion of a 
sub-committee of the Educational Policies Committee, the Lay Ad- 

• 139- 


visory Council was established in 1951. In the group were 33 parent 
representatives, three teachers, the principal, and the assistant prin- 
cipal. Its primary purposes were to give representative parents more 
understanding of the school program and use them as a sounding 
board for new ideas. During the Council's first two years, a topic of 
particular interest to them was the counseling system. A change in 
organization of guidance during 1952 was the assignment to several 
homerooms of girls' counselors who spent half of each day working 
with groups ranging from 30 to 100 students. 

In another attempt to involve more parents in school planning, an 
"area consensus study" was initiated. Both parents and citizens with- 
out children joined students and teachers in exploring the function of 
a modern school library. An inventory prepared by the Illinois School 
Curriculum Program was filled out by 1 18 teachers, 48 adult citizens, 
and 38 students. One of the questions on Inventory A asked when par- 
ticipants could meet, and eventually five groups met four times not 
only to "study one area of the school program but also ... to reach 
a consensus on what should be done, what is being done, and what 
improvements are needed." 

The Board of Education and Mr. Michael felt there was consider- 
able room for improvement. In a brochure mailed to nearly 7,000 
Evanstonians, a four-point building program listed as a major require- 
ment a new library. The other proposals were for an auditorium, 
envisioned as seating between 1,200 and 1,500; new music facilities 
near the auditorium, which would go up on the front south corner 
of the present building; and a swimming pool. True to its function as 
a sounding board, the Lay Advisory Council was first to hear a de- 
tailed explanation of the proposal. Only a month before members 
had learned that every child attending ETHS represented an invest- 
ment two and one-half times that of the average for school children 
the country over, specifically, $516 a year. The national average in 
1952 was approximately ;$20o. Operating the school a single day cost 
about 16,450, reported the school business manager. 

Community reaction to the initial brochure included some rum- 
bles of dissent. Late in January, 1952, several city aldermen expressed 
anxiety that the $2,000,000 school bond issue, planned for April, 
might jeopardize projected city bond issues. Nevertheless, the Board 
agreed in February to submit the issue to an April 1 1 referendum. 
The propositions were linked so that voters would either accept them 
all or reject them all, and one change in plans had already occurred. 
The library would be expanded eastward instead of being built in the 
north court next the gymnasium, as originally indicated. The switch 
would make it possible to enlarge the main offices. 

The local newspaper reported "opposition from certain quarters 

• 140 • 

Mr. Michael Becomes Principal 

on the grounds it would increase taxes" and then presented this in- 
terpretation on its editorial pages: "The bonds to be submitted at the 
two elections add up to about $31/9 million dollars. This will bring 
the total bonded debt of city and schools to about 10 million dollars 
. . . under one-third of the amount permitted by law. Paying off all the 
new bonds will add about I9.24 a year to a $300 tax bill." 

A particularly powerful argument for opponents of the bond issue 
was a letter released to local papers by Ira Westbook, retiring Board 
president, who explained "There were so many of our Evanston 
neighbors, many of them representative citizens, who requested that 
the School Board take action to provide for a bond issue . . . that I 
considered it my duty to vote favorably" — and added "Personally, I 
think the taxes in Evanston should not be increased except for some- 
thing that is absolutely necessary." He questioned, he concluded, the 
absolute necessity of the bond issue as the "schools and the city have 
heretofore been getting along very well without these improvements." 
The letter was written, he said, because of public statements that the 
Board was unanimous in its action. 

Though urged, the Evanston Young Republican Club took no 
stand favoring the proposals, either, and the outcome of the election 
appeared a shade dubious. 

The proposal was defeated 3-2 as more than 5,600 voters turned out 
in a school vote larger than in many years. The issue was defeated in 
all seven precincts, with the soundest trouncing coming in the Haven 
school district. 

For the time being at least, the library would have to settle for 
its 1951 innovation, a reading nook equipped with comfortable chairs 
and well-stocked magazine racks. Nevertheless, the Annual Report 
of 1953-54 continued to present the need of the building additions, 
citing a predicted enrollment upsurge in 1956 as "war babies" reached 
high school age. The library, for instance, was still obliged to limit 
the numbers of students it could accept during rush periods. Its at- 
tendance was up 26.1 per cent, yet it seated only 72, far below na- 
tional standards which set 240 as the proper number. Its shelves were 
jammed, for stacks able to hold only 10,000 books could not be ex- 
pected to accommodate 17,000. 

No one was surprised when the issue was again presented on Octo- 
ber 21, 1954. This time the Board was clearly unanimous in its ap- 
proval, and at least 20 community groups had gone formally on record 
as endorsing the proposals. This time, too, the program was presented 
in three separate units. Though some taxpayers vociferated — "I hope 
the property owners will get out and vote against it this time again 
and bury it for a long time," wrote one to the Evanston Review — the 
public was willing. Voters approved a $1,100,000 auditorium-music 

• 141 • 

In .q-,6 the natatorium housing a large and small pool opened, 
as did the auditorium and a library and main office addition. 
A striking view of the natatorium is seen from the cloisters in 
front of the main office. 

• 142 • 

Mr. Michael Bccoincs Principal 

building and a $280,000 library addition by a 3-1 margin. The 
1570,000 swimming pool was safely in with a less striking 2-1 margin. 

Students greeted the news of the election with "roof-raising cheers 
as the returns were annoimced at the Harvest Informal, the tradi- 
tional Homecoming dance in the school gym Saturday night." Seniors 
were perhaps a shade morose, since they could hardly expect to enjoy 
any of the new facilities, but they had participated in their full share 
of innovations. Some had been studied in the Talented Youth Project 
of 1955. With several other high schools, ETHS entered into a 
cooperative project with the Horace-Mann Lincoln Institute of School 
Experimentation (Columbia University). A five-pronged program 
was developed under a steering committee which met with research 
experts from Horace Mann. First a list of between 700 and 800 
talented students was prepared, using recommendations of teachers, 
room directors, and sponsors. Then each department was asked to 
prepare definitions of talent in its field and to establish a card file 
naming pupils found outstanding. Another list drew upon a pool of 
"possibly wasted or unrecognized talent"; this one located pupils with 
high intelligence or standardized test sources who had not fulfilled 
this indicated potential — the "underachievers," they were soon called. 
Finally, about 125 interviews by a 12-man team were scheduled in 
the hope of uncovering data explaining high and low achievement 
among the academically talented. A Columbia research staff worked 
through the 600 pages of dictated reports and accompanying packets 
of data. 

Next step in the study was administration of three questionnaires, 
two on pupil attitudes toward school and self, one on attitudes to- 
ward others, to about 100 students from all grade levels. The re- 
sponses were classified according to whether students were "under- 
achievers," "high-achievers," "over-achievers," or "low achievers" (low 
ability plus low achievement). Those with demonstrated leadership 
quality or ability in other special areas were also included. 

What were the results? Underachievers seemed less satisfied with 
themselves than had been expected; high achievers had more clear- 
cut goals, were more active in school and out, and appeared less 
pressured from home. In general, all students quizzed found the 
school experiences "happy and enjoyable," though they criticized 
the school's effectiveness in helping them solve personal problems and 
felt its "social context" less adequate than its "work context." They 
cared least for English and social studies, most for mathematics and 
science. They studied about 1 1 hours a week if they were high achiev- 
ers, 14 if they were over-achievers, and eight if they were under- 

The study continued to bear fruit in an improved system for screen- 

• 143- 


ing for college-level and the rapidly proliferating honors courses. 
However, needs of other types of students were also being met. In the 
fall of '54, a diversified occupations training program was inaugurated 
in the Industrial Arts Department. Like the distributive education 
program, it arranged for students to alternate between work and 
study. The work this time was in the industrial field. The 19 first- 
year students were accepted for training in auto mechanics, com- 
mercial art, drafting, photography, printing, electrical trades, ma- 
chine operating, and radio repair. 

Teachers were also learning more about industry. In 1954, the 
Chamber of Commerce invited them for a day of touring the com- 
munity's businesses and industries, hence the title Business-Industry- 
Education Day. Host companies transported the teachers by bus and 
limousine to spots ranging from banks to radio manufacturing plants. 
Equally interesting to teachers probably was news of salary boosts 
averaging $900 a year. A corollary Board action was compulsory retire- 
ment at the age of 65. 

National honors were coming with increasing rapidity to the staff. 
In 1953, Clarence W. Hach, then journalism teacher and chairman of 
publications, was awarded a 1953-54 fellowship by the Fund for the 
Advancement of Education, a Ford Foundation project. He studied 
at the University of Minnesota and at Columbia, focusing his work 
on the field of humanities. In the spring of 1955, Wanda Mitchell, 
speech department chairman, received a Ford fellowship to investi- 
gate educational uses of television. 

Miss Mitchell's honor pointed up the school's interest in experi- 
mental projects. The next year Ford shared in financing an experi- 
ment in closed-circuit television as a means of combatting the teacher 
shortage. Eventually television was installed in 25 classrooms sep- 
arated into three groups or units, each with its own control center. 
One unit was used for 2 English-Speech with an originating class- 
room, three receiving rooms, a control room, and a small auditorium. 
Another unit was set aside for typing instruction, and the third was 
planned for experimentation in all subject matter areas. A by-product 
of the program was a summer workshop which trained 16 high school 
juniors and seniors for technical jobs. The three-week course was 
taught by Miss Mitchell, back from travels, in which she observed 
educational television in action all over America. 

Students and teachers struggled alike with syllogisms and ad 
hominem arguments in another project of the middle '50's. By 1956, 
the second year of this experiment, techniques had crystallized 
somewhat in the Project for the Improvement of Thinking. The Uni- 
versity of Illinois professors who directed the project produced a 71- 
page Guide to Clear Thinking with 300 "thinking" exercises "geared 

• 144* 

Mr. Michael Becomes Principal 

for needs of various teachers." Students took standardized critical 
thinking tests early in the fall, and the tests were repeated in the 
spring after teaching units were presumed to have had some effect on 
the thinking processes of the pupils involved. As a control, the same 
tests were given in two non-project schools carefully matched to the 
experimental institutions. 

A rather different college influence — higher entrance standards as 
enrollments began to rocket — led to an after-school review class in 
English for seniors in the regular sections. At the other end of the 
academic ladder, a "hurdles" class was instituted in 1955-56. Students 
who failed to make an average score on a mechanics of expression 
section of the annual examinations were required to take this nine- 
week, non-credit course. If they still failed to pass a similar examina- 
tion at the end of the nine weeks, they repeated the course, which 
stressed punctuation, spelling, and language usage. Failure this time 
resulted in an explanatory letter to the parents of the student to the 
effect that the school had done its best, but that the pupil still failed 
to meet minimum standards in the mechanics of English. 

Still another innovation in the English Department was an- 
nounced at the end of 1957 by Mr. Hach, now chairman of the de- 
partment. Eight sections of seniors would be taught by a team of five 
teachers. Four sections — 120 students each — would meet jointly in a 
large "community" room for certain purposes "most economically and 
effectively" met in this way. One might be the explanation of such 
routine material as the mechanics of producing a term paper. Another 
would certainly be making it possible to clraw upon the teacher mem- 
ber of the team in the "area of his greatest specialization." At the 
outset of a drama unit, for instance, the teacher whose knowledge and 
interest in this field were strongest would give the opening lecture. 

At least half of the time teachers would meet separately with a 
normal size class of 30 so that students would not become lost in the 
formal atmosphere of the large lecture room. A special feature of 
the project concept was the skills laboratory, which classified the 
student still another way, by the aspect of English in which he most 
needed special help. For three weeks of each semester he attended a 
laboratory in the area where he was weak and received instruction 
from the team teacher best equipped to instruct him. 

Freshmen received special attention in 1957, too. Ninth-graders 
recommended as having extraordinary ability and interest were sched- 
uled for a class even more challenging than an honors course since it 
ranked as a modified sophomore course. It was planned that they 
would, as sophomores, take an honors course in junior English; as 
juniors, an honors course in senior English; and, as seniors, either 
college-level English or special courses in creative writing and world 

• 145* 


literature. The classes were rapidly dubbed "AP" for the advanced 
placement it was hoped the freshmen would eventually receive from 

The anticipated higher enrollment of 1957 led to the re-opening 
of 324, for some years a storeroom and testing center; tree and shrub- 
planting, supervised by the Evanston Garden Council, was underway 
as the first step toward creating a semi-formal garden in the senior 
court; teacher salaries went up another S500 "across the board"; and 
the school entered its 75th year. 

It was in many ways a year typical of the patterns established in 
the decade since Mr. Michael had arrived. During it, the last of the 
handsome building additions was completed. The main office, mod- 
ernized and enlarged, with two suites of offices flanking it to the 
south and north, had been open since the fall of 1957. At the end 
of the same year, the library was finished. Enlarged to offer double the 
space, it was now equipped with a college and career room, a small 
room for teachers to bring classes, even a "listening" room with its 
own turntables and earphones. Now the library could seat 200 stu- 
dents and comfortably hold 23,000 volumes. The two swimming pools 
were ready the same fall, housed in their own building on the north 
campus and connected to the gymnasium wing by a cloistered 

But the million dollar auditorium was not dedicated until May 
15, 1958, at an organ recital. The recital was symbolic of the hold 
ETHS had for its graduates. The player was an alumnus, Dr. William 
S. Barnes, who had designed, built, and installed the $40,000 instru- 
ment as his gift to the school. Dr. Barnes himself had attended the 
old, overcrowded ETHS — when he wasn't home constructing an 
early organ. Asked by Principal \Vilfred F. Beardsley which was more 
important, attending classes or building an organ, the sophomore 
hadn't been quite sure then. After all, it took him three years to com- 
plete that first organ, with classes constantly interfering. 

The auditorium building in which he played was two and one-half 
stories high and included 20 classrooms and rehearsal rooms for 
the school's music department. The auditorium itself seated 1,600 
and boasted a 70 by 20 foot rolling door which varied the size of its 
proscenium as well as a three-level forestage. 

Automation had already come to ETHS ^vith two IBM machines 
arriving early in 1958 to make up report cards, thus releasing teach- 
ers from the drudgery of hand inscribing them — and to prepare 
punch cards identifying students in a dozen different ways. 

As usual, Evanston students were winning honors in many fields — 
two junior-grade scientists placing among 40 national winners in the 
18th annual Westinghouse Science Talent search, for instance. 

• 146 • 

Air. Michael Becomes Principal 

And, also as usual, parents were (juite interested in the most re- 
cent change — the transformation of the homerooms into halls, each 
with its own principal. The change had been on the way since four 
consultants made a study of homeroom organizations and the much- 
debated counseling services. In their report, they recommended the 
four "schools within a school," and the first experimental division was 
begun in 1956. Homerooms 324, 344, and 364 were grouped under 
Walter Rasmussen. The other recommendations were also carried 
out: to associate a professionally trained counseling staff with the 
hall which would cover all four grades, to provide carefully for 
parent education meetings, and to assign teachers to each division for 
curriculum work. By 1958, all four halls were in business. 

Discussion was brisk about the merits of the new system. Students, 
paients, and staff were full of opinions; it was the kind of fruitful 
reaction and inter-action that made ETHS what a National Broad- 
casting Company program, "^\ade, Wide ^\^orld," called the realiza- 
tion of the American dream. "Everyone, all over the world, dreams 
about having the kind of life and the kind of advantages that you 
have here." 

In the future, however, hard work would be required to main- 
tain that way of life. Commenting on the dramatic surge of Russian 
strength indicated by their launching of the first earth satellite in 
1957, Mr. Michael had observed: "Education has become a matter 
of prime urgency to the nation. The American high school appears 
to be the focus of this concern as communities throughout the country 
are examining all aspects of current secondary education in an at- 
tempt to chart a future course by finding new ways to meet new needs 
. . . we must have first-rate high schools in all communities if they 
are to meet the demands made upon them . . . Evanston Township 
High School . . . must continue to provide a challenging, balanced 
program of education for all the youth of our community . . . Our 
school is a leader among secondary schools. It has an important re- 
sponsibility to find answers to the unprecedented problems that face 
high school education and to report these solutions to other schools. 
New emphasis in the curriculum, higher standards, needed priorities, 
better staff utilization and improved educational opportunity for all 
according to ability are among the significant developments that will 
challenge our school in the future and insure its position of leader- 
ship. . . ." 

Mr. Michael predicted a future in which high schools would be 
less concerned with socializing functions and more with intellectual 
aims; the senior year would for many become the equivalent of the 
present college freshman year; and a seven-hour day would be the 
minimum for students with 200 days of instruction per year the 

• 147* 


minimum. Enrollment would increase 50 to 70 per cent with public 
school junior colleges and adult education groups increasing corre- 
spondingly. The curriculum would be pruned of needless courses. 
Much wider use of electronic and mechanical aids to instruction — 
films, video and sound tape, television, and self-teaching and self- 
testing machines — could be anticipated. Non-professional duties of 
teachers would be assigned to clerks and general aids so that energy 
could be concentrated on the classroom, and salaries would continue 
to rise. 

Much of that future was the present of ETHS at the end of its 
seventy-fifth year. In its history the school had reflected currents and 
cross-currents of American education — the fine, specialized college 
preparation offered by Henry Leonidas Boltwood; the parlous posi- 
tion of a school caught in the cross-fire of intra-community competi- 
tion during the protracted struggle over a suitable site in Wilfred 
Fitch Beardsley's era; the switch from a small, closely-knit school to 
a large, bustling one hit by the triple impact of an acute financial 
depression, a world war, and a changing school population seen in 
the administration of Francis Leonard Bacon; and the post-war 
pendulum swing toward increased academic stress and even wider 
experimentation under Lloyd Styers Michael. 

Equally, the school reflected the standards and hopes of the com- 
munity it served, a favored suburb-turned-city which drew to it par- 
ents who expected a good education for their children and were 
willing to pay for it in more than money. Those children in turn often 
sent their children to ETHS, and so a continuing tradition of loyalty 
resulted. In few other high schools do so many alumni return year 
after year to visit teachers. Surely, few other high schools receive so 
many gifts. And, behind the flurry of surface criticism, the com- 
munity confidently supports its high school staff in crises. 

In this kind of soil, good schools grow. 


E.T.H.S. today is pictured above with the library and main of- 
fice additions to the left and right of the Tudor windows, which 
were part of the original facade of the E.T.H.S. built in 1924. 

• 149. 

In 1956 the long-wished for auditorium and music wing 
opened. Above is a view of the auditorium from the cloisters 
in front of the main office. The auditorium is at the south end 
of the campus. 

• 15"- 




^'0112 025305084